As Chelsea cantered to the Premier League title last season, one man grabbed all the headlines for his incredible performances: N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman won the PFA Players Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Player of the Season and picked up his second Premier League medal in as many seasons, after winning the title with Leicester City in 2015-16.
The start of the 2017-18 campaign has been a little tricky for Chelsea, with the Blues currently six points off the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League, but the individual acclaim continues to roll in for the enigmatic Frenchman.
At the age of 26, Kante is seemingly at the peak of his career and is now a permanent fixture in the French national team – picking up 20 caps already. Comparisons between Kante and former France and Chelsea midfield general Claude Makelele continue to be drawn, with his insatiable appetite for ball-winning enabling his teammates in blue to play with freedom – safe in the knowledge Kante will be there to protect them if needs be.
Kante in esteemed company
The Ballon d’Or is an annual award presented by the French Football Association and has been a revered competition since 1956. Thirty players will compile the shortlist and Kante was one of the first five to be announced as a contender along with Luka Modric, Paulo Dybala, Marcelo and the world’s most expensive player, Neymar Jr.
The award has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in recent seasons – with both men sharing the award nine times since 2007 (Messi with five wins, Ronaldo with four) – and is historically awarded to players who possess more attacking prowess than Kante.
The Frenchman continues to belie his diminutive stature, however, and is one of the most consistent performers in the English Premier League and the French national team, and he will be delighted his performances have warranted a place amongst Europe’s elite.