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Why N’Golo Kante is the best midfielder in the world right now

An analysis of the French midfielder, one of the most dynamic, hard-working and reliable players in the world of football.

Career trajectory: the beginning

Kante was born on the 29th of March 1992, in Paris, France, from Malian parents. He began his football career at the age of eight at JS Suresnes, a club who was based in the Western suburbs of the capital. He played for them for almost a decade. It was said that Kante remained outside the radar of bigger clubs because of his small stature and selfless style of play. His next step was in 2010 when he joined the team of reserves at Boulogne. 

The professional debut came on 18 May 2012, in the last game of the Ligue 2 season, a 1-2 home defeat to AS Monaco. He stepped on the pitch replacing Virgile Reet for the last 10 minutes of the game. In 2013 he joined the Ligue 2 side Caen, playing all 38 games in his first season, the team managed to promote to Ligue 1. 

In the following season, Kante played 37 games helping Caen to stay in the top flight, his one absence was because of a suspension, being sent off in a home loss, 0-1, against Rennes. Notable is that he managed to recover the ball more times over the season than any other player in Europe.

Joining Premier League

Kante was scouted for the Premier League club Leicester City, joining the English side on 3 August 2015, having a four-year contract. Right off the start, in the most disputed football league in the world, the Frenchman received much praise, his displays on the pitch being impressive, consistently making a high number of tackles and interceptions. Leicester went to make one of the biggest surprises in EPL history, winning the 2015-2016 season in Premier League. Kante was a vital piece of the puzzle and his performances helped him to be named in the PFA Team of the Year. 

At the end of the season N’Golo Kante had some amazing stats, managing 175 tackles, 31 more than any other player, and 157 interceptions, 15 more than any other player. He finished the 2015/2016 Premier League season at the very top in regards to defensive stats.

Transfer at Chelsea

On 16 July 2016, Kante signed for Chelsea for a reported fee of 32 million pounds on a five-year contract.

He made his debut for the new club on 15 August 2016, in the season opener against West Ham. Since then Kante has remained a vital part of The Blues team.

International career and World Cup supreme glory

On 17 March 2016 N’Golo Kante was for the first time selected for the French senior squad. He made his debut on the Amsterdam Arena, against the Netherlands, in a 3-2 win, replacing Lassana Diarra at half-time.

His first start came on 29 March 2016, right on his birthday, against Russia in a 4-2 win. Kante was later selected for the Euro 2016 squad, having an overall good tournament, although he was unused in the final, which France lost 1-0 to Portugal after extra time.

His finest moment of glory came in 2018 when he was part of the France squad who won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Kante featured in all 7 matches of the tournament, being awarded the man-of-the-match against Denmark, in the group stage, and on the 15th of July, the midfielder, started in the 4-2 win over Croatia, the final of the most important football tournament in the world.

Comparison with Claude Makelele in his style of play just a far-fetched idea

Claude Makelele through his style of play defined a position, the anchorman, later called the Makelele roleMakelele respected and accomplished the role by the book, not moving forward with the ball, and more important, abandoning his central position only to cover when needed or to attack the ball carrier in center-left / center-right positions.

Claude Makelele in his limited anchor-man role

Meanwhile, N’Golo Kante has proven himself to be suited for many positions on the pitch, his style of play and versatility improving each year, and with every manager that the worked. Now at Chelsea, under Frank Lampard, he became the epitome of today’s midfielder in football.

Kante combining Carrilero and box-to-box roles

Kante, the complete midfielder

Being seen and depicted in the media as a Defensive Midfielder, or a Ball-Winning Midfielder, the Frenchman hits new heights as time passes being deployed as a Box-to-Box and also as a “Carrilero” for Chelsea.

Having Jorginho beside him in the center of the park, Kante plays multiple roles, attacking and defending. Originally a “Carrilero”, who doesn’t step too often in the box, participating in the buildup not so much as a creative player, receiving safe passes, having more defensive duties, marking and tackling opponents and covering overlapping full-backs. Kante became the complete Box-to-Box midfielder who threatens the opposition, and, also attacking the box to finish chances created by the team.

All these unique qualities are masterfully combined by him, and his duties change depending on how the match goes, or according to the tactical duties given by the manager.

Career honors

 

1x World Cup winner
2018World Cup 2018
1x Europa League winner
18/19Europa League
2x English Champion
2017Premier League
2016Premier League
1x English FA Cup winner
2018FA Cup
1x Player of the Year
16/17Premier League
1x Euro runner-up
2016EURO 2016
1x Footballer of the Year
2017France
1x World Cup participant
2018World Cup 2018
1x Euro participant
2016EURO 2016

Maybe N’Golo Kante will never win Ballon D’Or, but certainly, he is one of the most influential players in the world for his club and country. Although he is far from ending his professional football career, having plenty of stamina and energy left, the age being also an important factor, Kante inspires future generations, having his name already written in the beautiful books of history.

Eduard Dimiean

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