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N’GOLO KANTÉ – THE MIDFIELD MARSHAL

N’Golo Kanté is a French professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea and the France National team.

He was born on 29th March 1991 in Paris to Malian parents.

Kanté made his senior professional debut with Boulogne in 2012, appearing as a substitute in one Lique 2 match, and played an entire season in the third division the following year.

He joined League 2 side Caen on a free transfer, finished third and won promotion to Ligue I. He stayed with the club for one more year.

The following season, Kanté played 37 games as Caen remained in the top flight.

In 2015, he joined the English Premier League club Leicester City for a fee worth £5.6 million and became an integral member of the club’s first Premier League title. He was named Leicester Player of the Year in his first, and only season at the club.

In 2016, he joined Chelsea for a fee worth £32 million and won the league; making him the first outfield player to win back-to-back English league titles with different clubs since Eric Cantona in 1992 and 1993.

On 23 October 2016, he scored his first goal for Chelsea in a 4:0 home win against Manchester United.

Kanté made his senior international debut for France in 2016 and was included in the squad that finished runners-up at the 2016 European Championship.

In 2017 Kanté was named the French Player of the Year, a first for a player from the Premier League in seven years, and 12 months later was a key member of the 2018 FIFA World Cup winning squad.

A dynamic, diminutive and disciplined player, Kanté is known for his relentless energy and excellent ball-winning abilities as a box-to-box midfielder in the centre of the pitch. This is attributed to his strong positional sense, off the ball movement, and ability to read the game.

His game is considered as, or tasked with, doing the “dirty work,” which includes running, fetching, and retrieving possession; to benefit team-mates so they can be put in goal scoring positions.

Although he is predominantly known for his tactical awareness, intelligence, anticipation, and the defensive aspect of his game, his ability to tackle and regain possession, intercept passes, and block shot, he is also capable of playmaking from inside his own half and is an efficient passer on the counter-attack, thus allowing him to start attacking plays after winning back the ball.

He is also quick up and down the pitch and often makes late attacking runs, which even allows him to finish off goal scoring chances for his team on occasion.

He made the most tackles in Europe’s top leagues in back-to-back seasons (14/15 and 15/16).

THE ACCOLADES

In April 2016, Sir Alex Ferguson described him as the best player in the Premier League.

The following year, former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard labelled him as the best central midfielder in the world.

His World Cup winning midfield partner, Paul Pogba, said he could outrun an entire team of 11 players.

His league-title winning manager, Claudio Ranieri, often joked about him having “batteries” and said: “One day, I’m going to see you cross the ball and then finish the cross with a header yourself.”

Kanté’s former Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, praised his work ethic and constant willingness to improve.

Kanté has said he doesn’t necessarily enjoy his role but the “satisfaction in recovering a ball, in protecting my team from an opponent’s attack,” is what keeps him going.

A popular Internet Meme says that “70% of the planet is covered by water and the rest by the Kanté twins.” This exemplifies his standing among the fans and their recognition of his work ethic and reading of the game.

Under Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, Kanté also underwent a further technical and tactical development, and was deployed in a more advanced midfield role, becoming a more complete midfielder as a result, who was also effective in possession, as demonstrated by his ability to carry the ball forward and transition from defense to attack.

He had previously been used in this more advanced role with Leicester, as well as being deployed on the left flank on occasion.

In his first 150 Premier League appearances he totaled 92 wins, 28 losses and 10 goals.

In five years, in the Premier League, he has yet to receive a red card.

Kanté cites Lassana Diarra and Claude Makélélé as inspirations but insists he has his own style and approach towards the game, despite their similar playing styles and defensive roles in midfield.

He has won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year award, and established himself as one of the best midfielders of his generation during his time at the club, going on to win the FA Cup during his second season, the UEFA Europa League during his third and the UEFA Champions League during his fifth.

HONOURS

2014 – Debut in Ligue1 with Caen.

2016 – Joins Leicester.

2016 – Premier League winner with Leicester.

2017 -Premier League winner with Chelsea.

2018 – World Cup winner with France.

2019 – Europa League winner with Chelsea.

2021 – UCL winner with Chelsea.

 

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