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Official: Al Ittihad sign N’Golo Kanté on a free transfer from Chelsea

Thank you for everything

Manchester City v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

It’s the end of an era once again at Chelsea, though it’s an end that we have seen slowly approaching for the past couple years, which should, could in theory lessen the sadness. A bit.

N’Golo Kanté has confirmed his departure on a free transfer today, having signed a mega-deal with Saudi Pro League club Al Ittihad, reported to be worth as much as €100m per year, that will officially start on July 1.

Farewell, sweet prince.

Kanté signed as a Premier League-champion with midtable Chelsea in 2016, believing that he could go on to achieve all-time greatness in the process. And, well, right he was.

NG became synonymous with Chelsea, a team built around him as much as it was around Eden Hazard — and then built around him exclusively once Hazard left in 2019.

We’ve seen greatness in midfield over the decades at Stamford Bridge, but none were like N’Golo, who, as the classic joke went, covered whatever was not covered by water on this planet. He played as if there were two of him, the Kanté Twins if you will, to paraphrase another classic.

He won the Premier League with Conte, the Europa League with Sarri, the Champions League with Tuchel, the World Cup with Deschamps. He finished as high as fifth in the Ballon d’Or voting, briefly making us believe that there may be good in this world after all.

He never made headlines ... except for not making any headlines. Or for driving a non-flashy car. Or having dinner and playing FIFA with random strangers. He cheated at cards, and everyone loved him for it. The pseudo-flaw just to make sure he was actually human. Just look at that smile!

Alas, our world is harsh place. Injuries would take their toll, becoming a constant worry and concern after first rearing their ugly heads in 2019. When fully fit, Kanté was still his old self. But those days were becoming less and less frequent. He was limited to just nine appearances this year, missing most of the season with a hamstring problem and subsequent surgery.

But we sure had some fun for the past seven years.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Thank you for everything, NG!

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

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