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Makélélé tells ‘special’ Kanté the key to a long, successful career better than his own

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Improve and adapt.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

N’Golo Kanté’s outstanding displays over the last two years, which have seen him win just an equal number of Premier League titles, have brought about inevitable comparisons to former Chelsea great, Claude Makélélé, who is currently assistant manager at Swansea City.

Makélélé has addressed these comparisons in the past, passing the torch to the Chelsea midfielder and claiming that it was time for the modern central midfielder role, one that had taken after his own name for years, to be dubbed “the Kanté role”!

Asked to elaborate on that theme, Makélélé urges Kanté to keep going about his business as he has been, but perhaps a bit smarter in order to last a quarter century just as Maka did.

“At the moment Kante is special and one of the best midfielders."

“The problem is, I played 25 years in football at this level and comparisons are being made in a bad way. This season he did not play in the Champions League. Every four days there will be games. With the national team there will be games. There will be a lot of games. He needs to get that experience.”

“When he is at that level, he will not run 90 minutes all the time. He will need to listen to the rhythm, the way he plays. This will be key for him. I hope this will be the situation. I hope he does better than I did in my career.”

- Claude Makélélé; source: Goal

Indeed, Kanté, entering his sixth full season of professional football, hasn’t played in a European competition yet and might have some adapting to do given the expected workload he and Chelsea will be facing next season. The highest number of appearances he’s made in was 43, back in 2014; he will be expected to add 7-8, perhaps even 10+ games to that next season. That may not sound like much, but it’s a huge difference in terms of midweek rest and recovery. Kanté’s powers to be here, there, everywhere, and all at the same time may have entered meme-land, but in reality, there is still just one of him and not even he can have limitless stamina.

Hopefully like Makélélé, Kanté will find that rhythm where he doesn’t have to go all out 100 per cent of the time and thus can be a key contributor throughout the entire season.