In just his first season in England, N'Golo Kanté went from a relatively unknown midfielder from Ligue 1 to a contender in FIFA's Best Player Award 2016. One of the key components in Leicester City's incredible Premier League title run, there was plenty of speculation about his and his teammates futures this summer.
Kanté could have landed a big move to Real Madrid, or he could’ve stayed like Mahrez and Vardy did, but, thankfully, he decided instead to take his talents to West London and join a Champions League-less Chelsea project looking to recover from a shocking 10th place finish. The Premier League's best player easily cemented his place in the lineup, becoming instrumental to Antonio Conte's plans from the get-go.
At his previous clubs, both in England and France, Kanté used to play in a more reactive tactical style. At Chelsea, as he tells it in his interview in the latest edition of Chelsea Magazine, he is required to be a bit more proactive.
"I think Chelsea is different from my previous clubs because when I played in Caen and Leicester, we didn’t have the ball as much and we played more on the counter-attack."
"It’s better to have the ball than to run most of the time behind the ball. We defend like a team and when it’s my task to do the pressing and to work hard to win possession, I have to do it."
"That’s what I try to do – work hard to win the ball when we haven’t got it and to keep possession or create a chance when we have the ball."
Alongside Kante, the Serbian Spiderbeast Nemanja Matic has been almost as undroppable as well and the two of them have formed arguably the best midfield partnership in the Premier League.
"Chelsea have many very good midfielders, but most of the time I play with Matic and, yes, he’s a good player. In training we have done a lot of work together, so in the game we can understand each other."
"When he goes forward, I stay back. When I go forward, he stays back. When you play together, it’s good to understand each other and I think it is a good partnership."
-N'Golo Kanté; source: Chelsea FC
The addition of Kanté has worked out just about as well as we had expected, if not even better thanks to the revival of most of his new teammates after a disastrous last season. Hopefully Chelsea will be able to maintain the form and the momentum from before the international break when play resumes this weekend. Chelsea will be away to Middlesbrough on Sunday, with Kante and Matic once again out there in the middle of the pitch, looking to overcome any and all obstacles.