N’Golo Kante was the signing of last summer, arriving at Leicester City as a relative unknown, from Ligue 1 Caen for a bargain fee of €8m. He finished the season as a Premier League winner, French international and a contender for the PFA Player of the Year Award. That is quite the meteoric rise, and his career doesn’t look like slowing down. He is in the France national squad for Euro 2016, and could be a starter after the injury to Lassana Diarra. Kante is also interesting a number of huge clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG. Although Leicester are keen to keep hold of him, Kante has emerged as an incredible defensive midfielder and clubs of that calibre are difficult to refuse.
In his first season in the Premier League, Kante has redefined the role of the defensive midfielder, in a similar fashion to how Claude Makelele did when he played for Chelsea. Kante plays in a midfield two, covers every blade of grass and produces superhuman defensive stats. He is also more than capable on the ball, with a good passing range and ability to carry the ball forward. He is a destroyer in every sense of the word, and would be a great addition to any side in world football.
Nemanja Matic is Chelsea’s first choice defensive midfielder at the moment, but he could depart this summer as the Blues look to add Kante and Radja Nainggolan. In comparison to Kante, Matic won 2.34 tackles per game, while the Frenchman won an extraordinary 3.72. This shows how strong and reliable Kante is when it comes to winning the ball back. His reading of the game is also superb as he made an average of 4.64 interceptions per match, dwarfing Matic who made 2.49. He also committed fewer fouls with just 1.28 per game compared to Matic’s 1.41.
Kante is also significantly better on the ball. He created 0.89 chances per game compared to Matic’s 0.71. The Chelsea midfielder has a better pass completion rate of 88% compared to Kante’s 82%. However, the Frenchman’s completion rate remains impressive as he played a lot of long balls over the top towards the onrunning Jamie Vardy, as Leicester opted to play a counter-attacking player and preferred to concede possession. Meanwhile, Matic played in a deep lying midfield role and was often needed to play simple balls to the flair players.
The midfielder has a £20m buy out clause, which would represent a bargain to Chelsea as they look to rebuild their squad under Antonio Conte. In a market where Eric Bailly is worth £30m, Kante offers value for money as he is more established and has already showed his quality in England. Conte is looking to strengthen his midfield and a rumoured partnership of Kante and Nainggolan suggests that the Italian could be trying to build a tactically flexible squad. They could partner in a midfield two, three or play as the two deeper midfielders in a 3-5-2 formation, which is well liked by the Italian.
The future of Kante is up in the air, and although Leicester will hope to keep him, a move to Chelsea may be too good to turn down. This deal may depend on whether Jamie Vardy stays at the club or not. If he does, the other star names may follow suit and try to continue the fairytale at Leicester City. However if he joins Arsenal, the likes of Kante and Riyad Mahrez may try and move to bigger clubs while their stocks are at an all time high. If that is the case, Chelsea will be ready to pounce and he could turn out to be the best signing in the league for the second season running.