Ahead of Belgium’s crucial World Cup knockout game against France tonight, Belgium captain and Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard had a few words to say about France’s crazily talented and impeccable N’Golo Kanté, nowadays rumoured to have 15 lungs. Praising the French midfielder has become as normal as talking of crisis down at Stamford Bridge but it’s always lovely to be reminded of how lucky we are.
“I play all year with Kanté. He is the best in the world in his position. When he is at his best, you have a 95 per cent chance to win the game.”
-Eden Hazard; source: BeIN Sports via Daily Mail
While that 95 per cent chance is unfortunately a bit of an exaggeration, Chelsea have been able to win 46 of their 69 Premier League games in which Kanté featured since joining back in 2016, losing on merely 13 occasions. This accumulates to a 67% win rate, which is quite the number, especially if you keep our 2017-18 domestic campaign in mind (incidentally, Chelsea also have a 67% win rate in all competitions, 58 of 87, when Kanté makes an appearance).
The World Cup has shown and proven something to the world which has been clear for a long time now, namely that N’Golo and his twin Kanté really are phenomenal and the best in the world at what they do. With his performance against Uruguay, Kanté once more underlined why he’s not only pivotal for the Blues but also for Les Bleus.
You do not stop N’golo Kanté. He is everywhere and he will get the ball from you. The truly phenomenal trait of the French midfielder is that seems to be constantly getting better and better as well, continuously requiring new superlatives to describe him. Kanté may “just” be 5-foot-6 (and thus one of the smallest players at the tournament) but he’s among the best of the best at this World Cup, having recovered the ball 40 times and having made 17 interceptions and nine tackles.
Even before his fantastic outing against the South American side in the quarter-finals, he was already going from strength to strength, being awarded with the official FIFA World Cup Man of the Match against Denmark. One could even argue that he deserved it on several other occasions, too, such as against Peru or Australia, but Kanté didn’t score the goals and that’s what’s mostly decisive for these individual accolades.
27 - N'Golo Kanté already made 27 recoveries this World Cup tournament (incl. 13 v Peru), only one French outfield player managed to reach that tally in 2010 or 2014 (Paul Pogba, 28 in 2014). Giant. pic.twitter.com/FyYosVf3NK— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 21, 2018
Despite his excellence on the pitch, Kanté remains one of the most humble and non-typical footballers there is. For example, he famously still drives his small, used Mini Cooper, instead of a Bentley or some other exotic like a typical superstar.
We are truly blessed with the machine and the human being that is N’Golo Kanté; may it long continue!