Chelsea have completed the signing of N’Golo Kante from Leicester on a five year deal for a fee understood to be in the region of £30m, as reported by the BBC.
Kante’s superb debut season in England
After joining Leicester from Caen last August for around £5.6m, Kante amassed 40 appearances for the Foxes, whilst being instrumental in their title winning campaign.
Throughout that the 25-year-old consistently proved himself to be one of the best combative holding midfielder’s in the Premier League by producing a series of assured, all action displays.
In doing so Kante showcased his main strengths of making interceptions and excellent tackles, as he expertly broke up the play of Leicester’s opponents, whilst beginning attacks for his own team.
As such he became a key component of the Championship winning formula devised by Leicester’s manager Claudio Ranieri who must now prepare his team for defending their Premier League title without Kante.
Key stats for Kante
That represents a real challenge to Ranieri given the level of proficiency with which Kante fulfilled his defensive midfield role. Specifically the French internationalist broke the record for the most number of tackles made by a single player in a Premier League, by successfully completing 175, which was 31 more than the next best player, Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye.
Furthermore since the start of the 2014-2015 season, when he was with Caen, Kante has made 266 interceptions, which is more than any other player based in either the English, French, German, Italian or Spanish leagues.
Therefore as a result of Kante’s departure a chasm has opened up in the heart of Leicester’s midfield but Ranieri appears to have adequately planned for that by previously signing another quality central defensive midfielder in the form of Nampalys Mendy from Nice for £13m on 3 July, which was then a club record fee. However that was broken just five days later when the Foxes paid Lokomotiv Moscow £16m for Ahmed Musa.
As a diminutive, intelligent and resilient midfielder, who distributes the ball superbly well and plays with a great deal of maturity, Mendy possesses both the ability to perform the role Kante played for Leicester last season and help the Foxes enjoy another successful campaign.
Despite not yet having made a senior international appearance for France, Mendy could undoubtedly break into Didier Deschamps’ squad and may challenge Kante for a place in Les Bleus midfield in the future.
Ironically the two players have been likened to the legendary French midfielder Claude Makelele, which testifies their wonderful level of technical ability. Mendy continuously demonstrated that last season as he was an ever present in Ligue 1 for Nice, whilst captaining the side to a fourth place finish.
Given that Mendy arrives in English football with an excellent reputation, which he began to build under the guidance of Ranieri at Monaco, with whom he won the 2012-2013 Ligue 2 title.
Life after Kante
Therefore whilst the loss of Kante to Chelsea represents a major blow to Leicester, that has been softened by the arrival of Mendy, who will inject fresh impetus and life into the Foxes midfield.
The 24-year-old is likely to play alongside Danny Drinkwater, who will play a vital role in helping his new team mate adjust to the demands of the Premier League, which Mendy may experience for the first time when Leicester open up the new season with an away game against Hull on 13 August.
Until then Mendy will require to prepare himself both mentally and physically for filling the void left by Kante to ensure that Leicester’s midfield operates as efficiently as it did last season.