N'Golo Kanté

Leicester City In 100 Players: N’Golo Kanté

Club Historian John Hutchinson continues his review of the careers of 100 of the most outstanding players to represent Leicester Fosse and Leicester City in the Club’s 140-year history. The series continues with N’Golo Kanté, one of the best midfielders of his generation.
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Kanté’s only season at Leicester City was in 2015/16, when the Foxes memorably became Premier League champions, but he will go down in history as one of the Club’s best-ever players.

His box-to-box play was characterised by relentless energy, effective tackling, initiating counter-attacks and tactical awareness. His ability to disrupt opponents’ possession play was phenomenal. His energy and work-rate was such that Steve Walsh, City’s Head of Recruitment, said that Leicester’s midfield consisted of Danny Drinkwater in the centre with Kanté on either side.

His career began at Boulogne when he made an appearance for the second-tier club in 2011/12 when they were relegated. He was a virtual ever-present the following season in the third tier. He then spent two seasons at Caen, winning promotion to Ligue 1 in 2013/14 and helping establish the club in the top flight in 2014/15.

On the advice of Walsh, Leicester’s new Manager Claudio Ranieri signed N’Golo in August 2015 for a reported fee of £5.6M.

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N'Golo Kanté and Claudio Ranieri
N'Golo Kanté and Claudio Ranieri

His consistently impressive displays that season were a key factor in City becoming Premier League champions. He made 175 tackles (31 more than any other player in the Premier League) and 157 interceptions (15 more than anyone else). Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary former Manchester United manager, described him as the best player in the Premier League.

With Leicester closing in on the title, N’Golo made his international debut for France in March 2016, going on to win seven more caps before he transferred to Chelsea for a reported fee of £32M in July 2016. 

His achievements in his one season at Leicester won him a plethora of awards. He was named in both the PFA and the Premier League Team of the Year. He was Leicester's Player of the Year and was one of three City players nominated for the PFA’s Player of the Year award. 

At Chelsea, he went on to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, and the FIFA Club World Cup. He was in the France national side which lifted the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Nations League. In addition, he won a host of individual awards, including France’s highest order of merit, the Légion d’honneur

He is currently playing in the Saudi Pro League after signing for Al-Ittihad in July 2023. 




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