General Kante

Ngolo Kante Chelsea

‘I was at the Chelsea training ground last week to see Eden Hazard and noticed N’Golo Kante wandering back to the changing rooms. So I went over to him and stood in front of him. And I poked him in the chest. I had to, just to check if he was real!

“You are real, you are!” I said, and he laughed.

Well, he may be real — but he’s certainly not normal. And I see no reason why he shouldn’t be PFA Player of the Year at the end of the season’ said Thierry Henry

Some are known for giving, but this diminutive Chelsea midfielder is known for something else…N’golo can take…

Kan-Take what?

N’golo delights in taking the ball away from his opponents for his team. Like Makelele, Kante is positioned just in front of the back three/four, tasked with breaking up plays, protecting his defenders and giving his team’s attacking players the platform to go and express themselves, and sometimes chip in with one or two goals himself. But N’Golo has officially made ‘The Makelele Role’ obsolete. From now on, the position of the defensive midfielder will be forever known as ‘The Kante Role’. That’s a big assertion to make, one must say. He has made more tackles and interceptions combined (467) than any other Premier league player since the start of this season and his ball winning abilities is very rare. He is so good that Arsene Wenger admitted he tried to sign him twice. Not only him though, the likes of Manchester United and Juventus all scrambled to sign him after his incredible debut season in the Premier League with Leicester City

Kante, 25, is a supreme athlete with impeccable timing in his tackles. The little Frenchman is an absolute workhorse in the middle of the park; he doesn’t stop running and never gives the opposition a moment’s rest on the ball. He’s strong, quick, and aggressive, and already demonstrated his importance to Chelsea, starting every Premier League game under Antonio Conte, apart from Bournemouth game when he was suspended on 5 yellow cards. You would be forgiven if you think Chelsea plays a 12 men team.

On the back of his outstanding debut 2015-16 Premier League campaign, in which he won the title with Leicester City and made more interceptions and tackles than anyone else, Kante forced his way into France’s Euro 2016 squad and earned himself the move to Stamford Bridge, now on his way to win back-to-back titles. You can’t help but admire him. His move from Leicester to Chelsea has coincided with a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the two teams, while Chelsea languished in mid-table last season, and now top of the pile since they hit the number 1 position with Kante, Leicester are now fighting for relegation, a far cry from last season. One could say the two teams just did a swap.

Despite being in this league for just a little over a year, Kante has broken the record for most tackles in a match. The game against Liverpool was Kante at his best. Kante made SIXTEEN tackles during the game, winning fourteen of them, the highest of any player in any Premier League match this season. This clearly explains the joke ‘70 per cent of the Earth is covered by water; the rest is covered by N’Golo Kante!’ He personally has more points than any TEAM since arriving in England. Shocking stats like this simply means that since Kante came to England, the two teams he has played for have picked up a combined total of about 76 points in over 55 games without him. But no player has picked up more points in games they have played than Kante has for Leicester and Chelsea, with over 130 points in 55-58 games, five defeats and 13 draws he has won it all. On top of his work-rate, tackles and interceptions, Kante has improved his passing and movement at Chelsea. He ranks the fourth highest in the Premier League for passes played, so far this season, and is getting forward more than ever under Antonio Conte. Don’t forget that Leicester stormed to the Premier League title last season, winning with a 10 points margin, which spoke of dominance, eschewing any fluke theory. Leicester’s struggle started the moment he left.

This huge haul of points puts him well ahead of any other player in the Premier League in terms of points that he’s helped a team to win in the time under review.

General Kante, as he is popularly known by Chelsea faithful, always plays with a smile; a joy to watch, he is indeed the real deal and can arguable be called the “best 2016 signing in the EPL”. In the words of Martin Tyler, “my man of the year would be Kante.” Humble and soft spoken, his impact has been shown at Leicester and Chelsea. Eden Hazard, Costa, and Pedro the attacking trio of Chelsea, are in double figures but all looked a ghost of themselves last season. The effectiveness of the 3-4-3 formation lies in Kante. He does not make rash tackles, rarely slides, and when he does, immediately up on his feet and tackling again. Even robots will clog at certain points. He must be a nightmare to play against. Nipping balls off opponents gives Moses, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard and Costa the ability to spring drone speed counter attacking football, which has devastated many teams this season.

His impact cannot be over-emphasized especially when you look at Chelsea’s cross town rivals in the North London, where a certain coach can’t seem to find the formula to winning the Premier League for a 12th year running. This could be attributed to failing to make “impact signings” like Kante, with his team having been deficient in the “Kante role” for a long time.

Chelsea; what they have achieved thus far this season is very remarkable, from equaling the all-time EPL record of straight wins (14) in a single season to being 10 points clear of all the other chasing pack.

Kante undoubtedly is “the open secret” to Chelsea’s success, and should be the POTY. It’s a hard ask when it’s unusual for players that play his role to win such awards, as people prefer the Costa’s, Hazard’s and Zlatan’s. It was when Makelele came to Chelsea that John Terry and Carvarlho started winning accolades and Player of the Year awards. Back track to when Florentina Perez refused to increase Makelele’s wages, and he left them for Chelsea, it took Madrid so many years and signing players like Gravesen, Lassana Diarra, and others trying to fill the void he left. You never know what you have until you lose it they say, I guess Roman Abramovich knows and would have stamped a “hands off” tag on N’Golo as he looks forward to a long and trophy laden career with Chelsea. The debate now rages on for players other than strikers to win annual awards, both locally and internationally, with Phillip Lahm expressing the opinion that the Ballon D’Or is now a contest for forwards.

Will it be another era of Chelsea; breaking records, taking titles & making idols? Whatever the case maybe, I beg to disagree with Jose Mourinho who said nobody can buy their way to the Premier League title again. Since none of the title rivals are consistent enough to put the kind of pressure that can make the league leaders crack, you can boldly say that Chelsea just bought the Premier League title for £32million ONLY- General N’Golo Kante is a story just begun and if anyone KAN-TakE the POTY ward its N’golo!