N’Golo Kante’s astonishing rise over the last five years
The France midfielder has turned into a key figure for club and country.
N’Golo Kante on Friday agreed a five-year contract extension with Chelsea until June 2023.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the 27-year-old midfielder’s last five years, which include two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one European Championship final and a World Cup win.
After joining Caen from Boulogne the previous season he helped his new team to promotion from Ligue 2 to France’s top flight. He scored Caen’s first goal of the Ligue 1 season against Evian and was sent off against Rennes, the subsequent one-match suspension the only time he was absent in the championship all season.
Kante played an integral role in ensuring Ligue 1 survival for Caen. His defensive contributions attracted attention and a bid from Marseille, whose offer was described by Caen as “disrespectful”. But he was signed by Leicester on August 3 for a reported fee of £5.6million. He made his debut as a substitute in a 4-2 win over Sunderland – Claudio Ranieri’s first as Foxes boss.
Leicester were transformed under Ranieri and with Kante’s influence attracting plaudits. The Foxes, 5,000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, completed a memorable Premier League title win. He was part of the France squad which reached the Euro 2016 final in Paris, only for Portugal to upset the hosts. Kante did not feature in the final. He swapped the King Power Stadium for Stamford Bridge in a £32m move to Chelsea on July 16, even though the Blues had finished a distant 10th and the Foxes were in the Champions League. He scored his first goal for Chelsea in a 4-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Kante became the first player since Eric Cantona in 1992 and 1993 to win successive English championships with different clubs. But Cantona did not play full seasons with Leeds or Manchester United. His Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard joked the midfielder must have a twin, so impressed was he with Kante’s irrepressible athleticism, indomitable will and astounding game intelligence. Personal accolades were received. Kante was named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year.
A relatively disappointing season at Chelsea concluded with a fifth-placed Premier League finish and FA Cup glory, over Manchester United, at Wembley. He helped France to a second World Cup victory, 20 years after their first, at Russia 2018. During celebrations, Kante was serenaded by team-mates including Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, who were keen to acknowledge his telling contribution. Kante helped Chelsea to a 12-match unbeaten start to the league season and signed a five-year contract extension on November 23.