MARTIN KEOWN: Kante is the finest defensive midfielder in the world

MARTIN KEOWN: N’Golo Kante is the finest defensive midfielder in the world – and you could make a case that the Chelsea star is the best EVER in the role

  • It’s no coincidence that France and Chelsea have triumphed with N’Golo Kante
  • Kante was influential in stopping the Manchester City passing machine
  • He could have played until midnight halting City in the Champions League final
  • The £32m Chelsea spent on him in 2016 from Leicester looks like a bargain now 

The Manchester City passing machine could not get going and that was largely because of N’Golo Kante throwing a spanner in the works.

It is no coincidence that the France team who won the last World Cup and the Chelsea team who just won the Champions League have Kante.

He is that immense. It felt like Saturday’s final could have gone on until midnight and he would have still been running up and down the pitch, such was his desire to disrupt City.

N’Golo Kante (left) celebrates winning the Champions League after defeating Manchester City

Right now, there is not a finer defensive midfielder in the world than the all-action Kante. Is he the best ever? That is hard to say. You could definitely make a case.

I was blessed to play behind Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva. Those players provide you with pure protection and you feel safer with them in front of you. Kante gives that to this Chelsea defence.

Maurizio Sarri tried playing him in a different position but Thomas Tuchel is playing him where he is at his best. Not only do we have to say Leicester found a gem in Kante but Chelsea got an absolute bargain when they spent £32 million on him in 2016.

The midfielder’s energy was key in helping neuter City’s passing game during the final

Kante was named Man of the Match following the final as he addresses the media 

The Blues had just finished 10th in the Premier League, remember, so were not even in Europe. Yet while other sides went to sleep, Chelsea signed a world beater. Every team in Europe would love to have this midfielder, with a twin engine, starting for them now.

Kante would have been warned to watch out for Ilkay Gundogan arriving late in the box. So he would have been astonished to see City’s top scorer in the distance, having been deployed as their deepest midfield player.

Now 30, Kante has won Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and World Cup medals.

He is, quite simply, one of the game’s greats.

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