It goes without saying Leicester’s N’golo Kante was one of the standout performers in the Premier League last season and it is unsurprising to see him being linked with a number of Europe’s elite clubs. Chelsea are rumoured to have begun negotiations to secure the Frenchman and Lewis Addley explores why they should be doing everything possible to get a deal done…
In the summer transfer window 13 years ago, Chelsea secured the signing of one Claude Makelele from Real Madrid for a fee of around £17 million. His success in the Premier League led to his position being referred to as the ‘Makelele role’ and many have drawn comparisons to his playing style since.
In the 2015/16 season, Leicester City’s N’golo Kante emerged as arguably the best holding midfielder in Europe and it seemed only a matter of time before some of Europe’s elite came calling for his services.
The Frenchman has received heaps of praise from pundits and fans alike. Makelele himself has tipped him for a move to a ‘big club’ and with all due respect to Leicester, it looks like that is going to happen.
Kante has already turned down a £100,000-a-week improved contract from Leicester, arguably making his intentions to leave the club clear. Antonio Conte is hoping to bring in another holding midfielder to bolster his options at Chelsea. A hard-working player will be essential if his preferred 3-5-2 formation is to be successful in the Premier League.
Having already failed in attempts to sign AS Roma’s Radja Naaingolan, Kante appears to be at the top of Conte’s wish list.
So why should Chelsea be doing everything to get a deal done?
Leicester City have already been offered £35m for Kante by Chinese club, Shanghai SIPG – £15 million higher than his buy-out clause. While money may not be the motivation for the player himself, nobody would blame Claudio Ranieri for cashing in at the highest amount possible. Although he will be hard pushed to find a replacement of equal quality to Kante.
The Frenchman is well in the shop window and clubs from across Europe have been monitoring his current situation at Leicester, the longer any potential deal takes to complete, the more competition Chelsea are likely to face to secure his services. Real Madrid are also watching the situation closely.
The 25-year-old midfielder featured in 37 of 38 league games last season on his way to winning the title, barely putting a foot wrong and he even managed to pick up four assists and find the back of the net once.
Better by comparison:
While it has to be clear this is not suggesting Nemanja Matic is a worse player, Kante bettered the Chelsea man in a number of key areas last term.
Matic was just one of Chelsea’s key performances from their title winning side of 2014/15 who really appeared to struggle to reach the same heights last season. As the current first-choice holding midfielder at the club, his position could well come under threat with the potential arrival of Kante.
As we can see Kante bettered Matic’s output in all of the areas highlighted above. However, Matic did manage more successful passes than the Frenchman, more forward passes and netted one more goal.
Kante is only 25, giving him the potential for at least seven years at the top level, barring any injuries. He would be an infectious player for up and coming talent to learn from and is far from his peak.
Given how well he embedded himself in the French squad for the European Championships, it appears he will thrive off of playing alongside some of the highest regarded players in Europe.
If reports are to be believed Kante could become a Chelsea player in the very near future. He frustrated practically every opposition side in the Premier League last season and could play an integral role in Conte’s Chelsea revolution if he completes a move to West London.
Is Kante the holding midfielder Chelsea need? Should they be doing everything they can to sign him?