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.
He arrived at Chelsea with a Premier League winner's 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 our Player of the Year. He then ended the season in the best possible fashion, shining in midfield yet again as we shut out Manchester 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 XI 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 Manchester 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 11 was in serious jeopardy. Happily, he battled through to start in Baku and help us to a big win over Arsenal.
After a stop-start return from the injury which had affected him in the build-up to Baku, Kante soon settled into his groove under new boss Frank Lampard, and netted a spectacular solo goal against Liverpool at the Bridge.
He added to his tally away to Southampton and Man City, the latter goal away to the champions further evidence of his more advanced role in our midfield. His return to fitness was also in evidence as he started 12 of our next 13 matches, but cruelly injury struck again in our match against Man Utd in February.
He didn’t return until the resumption of football following the Covid lockdown in June, but looked to have put those injury problems behind him as he featured regularly to help us reach the FA Cup final and secure a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Kante started our first 17 league fixtures, mostly at the base of Frank Lampard’s three-man midfield. He was still given licence to get forward when the time was right, and registered an assist for Timo Werner’s goal in the 4-1 win over Sheffield United that showcased the best of our attacking play in autumn.
Remaining solid as a team proved problematic, however, and the end of Lampard’s time in charge was not helped by Kante’s unavailability through suspension and then a hamstring injury. He missed Thomas Tuchel’s first two games and after featuring off the bench in the next three league fixtures, Kante held down a starting berth for most of the rest of the season.
With Chelsea changing shape under Tuchel, Kante reprised the central midfield role he excelled in during his first two seasons at Chelsea. He supplied the long pass that found Mason Mount who scored at Liverpool, and Kante was also at his very best in the vital victories at West Ham and Man City that went a long way to securing our place in the top four.
Plenty of Kante’s individual highlights came in the knockout competitions. He captained the side at Barnsley in the FA Cup fifth round, and registered his 200th Chelsea appearance in the Champions League victory at Atletico Madrid later in February. In the second leg, he produced a mindboggling 94th-minute sprint from well inside his own half to create the space so Emerson could seal a fabulous European victory.
He was named Man of the Match in the ‘home’ game against Porto in the next round, thrived at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final success over Man City, and then twice dominated Real Madrid’s much vaunted midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro as we impressively booked our place in European football’s showpiece fixture.
In Porto, Kante was a giant among men, winning more aerial duels than any Chelsea player and registering the highest number of ball recoveries, disrupting Man City’s passing game and helping us launch threatening counter-attacks. It crowned another magnificent year in blue for N’Golo, who is now behind only Cesar Azpilicueta for Chelsea appearances.
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.
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.
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.
Three years later, at the delayed Euro 2020, Kante was central to Deschamps' plans again, featuring in every minute of France's campaign as they reached the last 16 before being eliminated by Switzerland on penalties.
- 3 APPEARANCES
- 108 MINUTES PLAYED
- 1 GAMES STARTED
- 1 GOALS
0 ASSISTS 0 CROSSES 2 CHANCES CREATED
79%PASS ACCURACY 70 TOTAL PASSES 55 PASSES COMPLETED