What N’Golo Kante means to Chelsea

Photo Credit: Leicester City

Chelsea and Leicester City have come to an agreement on a deal to send N’Golo Kante to Stamford Bridge, according to multiple sources.

Prior to the European championships, Leicester City offered their star a four-year deal, but his performance at EURO 2016 only fueled more interest for top clubs.

The bidding war between Chelsea, Juventus, and Arsenal found the French midfielder intrigued for a new beginning. Rightfully so, his move to Chelsea was a superb decision for both sides.

The defensive brilliance of Antonio Cante has struck again with the addition of N’Golo Kante. If Conte’s track record has taught us anything, it is that he is able to organize a team to thrive in his defensive-third, while still maintaining offensive balance to create opportunities. Conte has had success with this everywhere he has gone, and showcased his genius in Euro 2016 by defeating Spain and taking the world champs into penalties. With that being said, Conte’s tactics fit Kante perfectly, and as one of the first moves the new manager has made, Chelsea fans must certainly be in awe.

For Chelsea, it’s essentially ‘The K/Cante Way’. Yes, it’s the type of cheesy pun we all made in our middle school days, but due to the two’s similarities, it’s perfect.

What makes this fit perfect is the cohesion between Conte’s tactics and Kante’s abilities. Both are defensive, filled with passion, and hungry to win. Both are underdogs, in the shadows of other big names, trying to make a name for themselves. Both, are winners.

This past year in the English Premier League, Kante led the league in both tackles won and interceptions. And while were at it, not a single player in the top five Euro leagues has as many interceptions or tackles than Kante.

As far as what it will look for Chelsea, Kante adds a solid, everyday force as a defensive midfielder. Most likely, this takes Nemanja Matic out of the equation, who could end up departing from the club anyway. If they go this route with replacing Matic with Kante, this adds energy and athleticism that Chelsea lacked in their midfield last season.

Nemanja Matic is a modest player, but changing to Kante is the best fit. When you compare Kante’s numbers to Matic’s, Kante leads comfortably in minutes played, interceptions, tackles won, and chances created. The only stat Matic leads in is pass completion percentage, and if you watched Euro 2016, that is not an issue for Kante. Then if you compare the numbers to Mikel, another Chelsea defensive-mid, Kante runs those numbers out of the building. The weakness in Chelsea’s midfield is Matic, and with the signing of Kante, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas will have one less duty to cover as they can play with more freedom and space.

Kante’s presence allows both Fabregas and Oscar to play in a more comfortable role that they thrive in on the offensive end. Specifically, for Fabregas, it gives him more freedom to stay higher and stay in space. This gives him more time and space for him to pick out deadly balls going forward on a counter attack. However, with an opposing set defense, he is allowed to be Chelsea’s maestro, picking apart opposing defenses and causing them to fall asleep until he plays the unthinkable pass seconds before the ball is in the back of the net. Last year, with a weaker defense, Fabregas was forced to play more defensive and that limited his skill going forward. Now, Fabregas at a defensive role isn’t necessarily wrong, but when he has the ball at his feet, he can thread balls into nonexistent passing lanes, creating deadly chances for his fellow stars up top. Plus, what many people don’t realize is that Fabregas was only three spots behind Kante for most tackles in the Premier League. Now Chelsea will have two of the top five players at winning tackles, along with the offensive talent Oscar brings. As for how Kante effects Oscar, a stronger defense creates more opportunities for the attacking-mid to counter and get the ball moving forward. Oscar shines when he is running at goal, and not to mention, he has Eden Hazard, Willian, and Diego Costa running with him.

If you can remember the 2014-2015 season, where Chelsea was magnificent, their success was fueled by their defense. Another defensive-minded coach in Jose Mourinho found that having a strong defense led to consistent success and found the team more organized and healthy moving forward. This year, with a similar roster, Chelsea got better defensively and still holds the offensive firepower to go with it.

You see, N’Golo Kante might not be a huge name (yet), but the difference he makes for this team is huge. Now that Chelsea grows defensively, they can regain their identity and continue to develop consistency for the future. If so, with a huge market like Chelsea, they will acquire more big names, it’s nearly inevitable and with that being said, the consistency now makes the future even more compelling.

For Chelsea fans, ‘The K/Cante Way’ is a newer identity to their prior philosophy, defense wins championships. With Kante coming in, the beast Chelsea has been looking for will be unleashed in a Didier Drogba-type way, but this time as a defensive midfielder. His efforts may not always show up in the highlights, but the man wins. For the new, revamped Chelsea, it looks like their bright future holds more hardware.

Writer’s Note: Feel free to let me know what you thought or if you have any comments on Twitter @Carterdonahue_. While you’re at it, make sure you follow @SportsTalkfeed for all your sports news and talk!