N’golo Kante — Player Story
The 27 year old French midfielder is of Malian descent — an African country, which is interestingly twice the size of France. Seydou Keita, another phenomenal central midfielder who won 14 titles with Barcelona, also hails from Mali.
Kante, who made his senior debut for Ligue 1 club Boulogne in 2012, had a phenomenal season last year at the heart of Leicester’s midfield — as Claudio Ranieri delivered a miraculous sucker punch to the theoretical concept of mediocrity.
This year, as the kingpin of ex — Juve and Italy boss’ Antonio Conte’s 3–4–3 formation, Kante flourished again and put in a spectacular shift of energy and effort. His ability to chase down the ball when his team is dispossessed, and his judgement and timing on the ball have earned him plaudits from Pluto to Palakollu — a beautiful coastal town on the Eastern part of Southern India, where reportedly 11 children are named Ngolo as a tribute to the French midfielder.
Well, the last part is made up but that didn’t discourage Kante from winning the prestigious PFA Player of the Season award in England.
Every year, all players from the 92 league clubs of England and the 8 WSL [Women Super League] clubs provide their nominations for the best player in attack, midfield and defence. And the player with the maximum nominations wins the award. Interestingly, a player can be nominated only if the club he plays for is part of the voting. And, you can’t vote for a player in your own team.
Gareth Bale [Spurs] , Luis Suarez [Liverpool] , Eden Hazard [Chelsea] and Jamie Vardy [Leicester] were the last four winners of the award.
Kante is the second French player to receive the prestigious English award — Thierry Henry won it twice in 2004 and 2006. He is also the third Chelsea player to receive the award — Frank Lampard won in 2005 and Eden Hazard won it in 2015.
Legendary Manchester United Goal Keeper — Peter Schmeichel a.k.a the Great Dane — is the only goalie to have ever won the award in 1996.
Manchester United [8 times] leads the list in PFA POTY awards with Arsenal second [4 times], Chelsea third [3 times] and Liverpool fourth [2 times]. Leicester, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Manchester City and Spurs have each seen one of their own lift the award once.
We, at footbaat, congratulate Ngolo Kante on this deserving award — his quality is apparent for everyone to witness.
But when, Claude Puel, current Southampton boss claimed that their La Masia recruit Oriol Romeu — 6 months younger than Kante — is almost as good as Kante, we thought it was a load of horse crap. After all, this is the infamous Claude Puel, who encouraged his players to walk off the pitch after Ryan Giggs scored from a quickly taken free-kick in a 2007 champions league match, as the manager of Lille.
But, here at footbaat, we enjoy pretending that opinions are valid only if the data backs it up. So, we went digging.
That blew our minds. So, we went searching.
We wanted to see if Kante is really the best player in EPL’s defensive midfield.
Poof. That is odd. What if we compare Kante at Leicester with Kante at Chelsea?
So is it then pertinent to assume that the players who voted for Kante were impressed more by his stint at Leicester than at Chelsea? Or his ability to have a monumental title-winning impact on his teams weighed heavily on their minds? Or are we looking at the wrong metrics?
We’d love to know what you think of that in the comments section.
Signing off this piece by what a wise old man once said about statistics -
“70% of the Earth is covered by water. The rest by N’golo Kante”
Very very true, indeed.