N'Golo Kante was a major addition to the squad for the 2016/17 season, signing a five-year contract for Chelsea.
Kante joined from Leicester City, where he so memorably played a major part in the Foxes’ Premier League triumph the previous season. The then 25-year-old came close to adding to that success on the international stage soon after. He was part of the France squad that was denied a host-team triumph at Euro 2016 by an extra-time Portugal goal in the final.
He arrived at Chelsea with a Premier League winners’ medal and eight international caps to his name, and was selected for the first game of the 2015/16 season, a win at home to West Ham.
Picking up where he had left off at Leicester, Kante was a mainstay of Antonio Conte's team in the first half of the campaign, memorably scoring the fourth and final goal in a big win over Manchester United in October 2016.
A match that typified his energy and contribution was an away draw at Anfield in January 2017 when he won a remarkable 14 tackles out of the 16 he went in for. The next best player that night won three.
He scored again against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, this time netting the only goal of the game in an FA Cup quarter-final in March, and followed that up a month later by being named PFA Player of the Year, as voted by his fellow professionals. It was widely acclaimed throughout the game as a thoroughly deserved honour and another one followed soon after when he was named 2017 Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association, becoming the 18th player in history to win both awards in the same season.
Most importantly, he started 35 of the 38 games that recaptured the Premier League title for Chelsea. He is the first player to win successive Premier League titles with two different clubs.
He scored what proved to be the winner at his former club near the start of the 2017/18 season and his importance was only emphasised when he missed a month in autumn with an injury suffered on international duty.
On his return and after some struggles, he helped the team achieve an impressive home win over Manchester United.
Against Southampton in December 2017, N’Golo Kante made his 50th Premier League appearance for Chelsea.
Kante's performances in the second half of the season remained at a high level even when the team occasionally struggled around him. He was one of our star men in both legs of the Champions League last 16 tie against Barcelona, especially impressing in Camp Nou, and played a key role as we reached the FA Cup final.
Before the Wembley showpiece, Kante's performances during 2017/18 were recognised by the Chelsea supporters who voted him their Player of the Year. He then ended the season in the best possible fashion, shining in midfield yet again as we shut out Man United to secure the FA Cup, the first of Kante's career.
Kante began life under Maurizio Sarri in a new role, slightly further forward on the right of a three-man midfield, and the rewards were immediate as he arrived in the box to break the deadlock in our opening-day win at Huddersfield.
Kante was named in the FIFA FIFPro World 11 in September, rewarded for his performances for both club and country, and in November it was announced he had committed his long-term future to Chelsea by signing a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge.
The Frenchman opened the scoring in a big win over Man City early in December and later the same month he scored the only goal of the game as we beat Crystal Palace.
He scored again in January against Tottenham to help us book a Carabao Cup final spot, which although we lost on penalties to Man City saw another superb Kante performance. He came as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock, too.
Kante was typically consistent as we secured a top-four position, but a hamstring injury sustained against Watford in our penultimate league game meant his place in the Europa League final starting XI was in serious jeopardy. Happily, he battled through to start in Baku and help us to a big win over Arsenal.
Chelsea is the fourth professional club of Kante's career. A Parisian by birth, he played for his local amateur side Suresnes until the age of 19 when he moved north and joined Boulogne.
Kante’s performances for Boulogne in 2012/13, when they were in the French third tier, caught the eye of Caen in the division above, and he helped power the Normandy club to promotion to Ligue 1 in his first season there. He played every game.
Following a second season with Caen he joined Leicester City.
The midfielder had been the first signing made after Claudio Ranieri became Leicester manager.
What followed is well-known throughout the world of football as Kante’s ability to win possession of the ball and retain it, and to power his team forward marked him out as the best transfer of the year in many people’s eyes.
He played in all but one of the league games in Leicester’s title win and made the Premier League’s most number of tackles and interceptions. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
The France national team came calling in March of 2016. Kante impressed and made the starting line-up for the opening game of Euro 2016 when the hosts took on Romania. His figures for passing, tacking and intercepting in that match were again unsurpassed and he supplied the ball for Dmitri Payet to strike a spectacular late winner.
After losing in the final of that competition, on home soil, there was a desire within the France squad to go one better at the 2018 World Cup, which Kante was selected for, and their aims were fulfilled as Didier Deschamps' side won the competition, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final.
Kante featured regularly throughout the tournament and started the final, adding the World Cup to his ever-expanding medal collection.
He was suspended for the quarter-final win over Iceland and began the semi-final and final on the bench. He came on in the first of those games against Germany but although many were calling for his introduction as the French midfield laboured against Portugal, he remained an unused substitute in the competition’s decider.
While a Chelsea player, he helped France qualify for the 2018 World Cup.