Everywhere he has gone, N’Golo Kante has won major trophies.
Aside from his first couple professional stints in the lower divisions of the French domestic leagues, Kante has been a vital cog for successful teams in the past few years.
Making a name for himself with Leicester City, and the cinderella story that came with it, Kante used his 5-foot-6 stature to his advantage. He scurries across the pitch like an annoying little brother, tirelessly kicking at players to regain possession while making numerous interceptions to breakup the opposing attacks.
When the diminutive Frenchman switched Leicester for Chelsea two summers ago, the Blues enjoyed a dominant title-winning season with Eden Hazard on good form. Still, it was Kante who was most noticeably the biggest difference in his new side’s dominance, as well as Leicester’s slap of reality going back to a mid-table finish.
Now the reigning 2017 French Player of the Year, Kante has been recognized for just how much he’s worth. This guy can run for weeks before getting tired.
Somebody get this guy a hamster wheel to keep training.
So, how did this little central defensive midfielder revolutionize the way the game is played, you ask? Let’s start with how each of the last few World Cup winners really embody the way the game is played during that time period.
Spain won in 2010, exemplifying the best way to play their tiki-taka brand of soccer that Barcelona’s treble-winning campaign the year before boasted so effortlessly. Four years later, Germany snagged the world’s most famous cup in an almost complete opposite way – no flashiness, just efficiency and effectiveness in both defense and attack while often grinding out results.
The style of play from four years ago has mostly carried over to this World Cup with a big exception in which France quelled – the art of the upset. All tournament long the inferior oppositions sat back and waited for their chances to counter attack, usually as clinical as ever in the final third. That’s how we saw all these upsets in the last month, whether it was Russia making it to the quarterfinals, Germany collapsing out of the Group Stage or Croatia making it all the way to the Final.
Yet, what France showed above all else is the sense of grinding results out. Not a single one of their victories were overly convincing or overpowering, yet they got the job done. Before Kante became a regular into Didier Deschamps’ side, Blaise Matuidi was tasked with being the only enforcer on a notoriously soft French squad. With a little more help, Kante transformed his teammates like Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann into becoming ravenous for winning the ball back. Kante’s contagious desire to chase the ball effectively yielded a team of World Cup winners.
And Pogba knew just how important Kante was when the team celebrated during the parade.
Kante embodies the grind-it-out style of play better than France and even better than the Germany side of four years ago. He has truly revolutionized the way the game is played and how teams prepare their tactics will reflect it for years to come.
Heck, Olivier Giroud is now a World Cup Champion. The same guy that missed easy chances for my beloved Arsenal for a living is now on top of the world as a key contributor. Back me up, Arsenal Fan TV!
And I blame Kante.