“He’s small, he’s nice, he stopped Leo Messi, but we all know he’s a N’Golo Kanté cheater”. We remember the song tribute of the Blues to N’Golo Kanté during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, to the tune of “Champs-Élysées” by Joe Dassin. Kantemania then seized France and it never really fell back. The midfielder’s latest XXL performances with Chelsea in the Champions League have even accentuated the phenomenon. And, abroad too, compliments rain for the former Caennais. Just read the editorial by Cesc Fabregas, star consultant of the Telegraph during Euro 2020, to be convinced.
The AS Monaco midfielder, who played for several seasons with the tricolor international for Chelsea, sent him a true declaration of love. “Eden Hazard and I gave N’Golo Kanté his Brazilian nickname N’Golinho when we were together at Chelsea and I still use it today. Obviously it was a bit of a laugh, but it showed how much we esteemed N’Golo and how much we appreciate certain aspects of his game that others might not see. Now everyone sees what an incredible player he is and, even though France doesn’t win the Euro, N’Golinho is one of the best players ever in his job. If France, which is my favorite in the tournament, wins the Euro, then N’Golo will be a very strong candidate for the Ballon d’Or, after adding the Champions League to his World Cup and his Premier League titles ”, he confided, then delving into his memories.
“I remember when he joined Chelsea he was very shy, he didn’t talk a lot. He had to get the ball around a little faster and always go forward because sometimes you felt like he had seen the pass but didn’t want to do it or at least didn’t want to take the risk of finding the little ones. spaces where Eden, Willian and Pedro played. N’Golo was perfectly the kind of player Antonio Conte wanted in the middle, someone powerful, who could run a lot, who was aggressive and could collect good balls. But under Conte’s orders, he made a lot of progress in his forward game, in his forward passes and he took on a new dimension ”, he explained, analyzing this progression.
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N’Golinho, the player and the man
“His dribbling may surprise you. He’s seen as a defensive midfielder who does all those tackles and collects a lot of balls and that’s fantastic, but sometimes you’d forget that he never loses the ball. He can run with the ball, break lines and dribble, and like he is, that doesn’t get much appreciation. So maybe that’s why we started calling him N’Golinho. It is one of the most complete circles in the world, to be sure. I remember an assist from N’Golo for Eden at Bournemouth. He played a long ball over defense and Eden beat the keeper and scored. We worked that a lot, a lot, a lot, almost every day and the next day, when we reviewed the images for video analysis, Antonio was so happy with him because it was exactly what he wanted ”, remembered the Iberian, world and European champion with Spain.
“We have seen this season that N’Golo was a player of great matches with his formidable performance in the Champions League final against Manchester City. I can see, like all great players, that he can take his game to another level for big dates. It is the sign of a great player. I remember two matches against Manchester United that we won, including an FA Cup final. On the day of the final, I think it was during Ramadan and it was very hot. We were having lunch and we had asked N’Golo if he wanted to eat. He told us no because he was fasting and he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to run. But he had a fantastic game and I still don’t know how he managed to run so much in this heat. I respect him all the more as I wouldn’t be able to do it and he had played a great match ”, he recalled, happy to have been able to play with him.
“Playing next to N’Golo gives you a lot of security, confidence. The way he recovers, the way he keeps the ball and intercepts. We got along well because I liked him to give it to me quickly after I recovered. He is so smart and knows how to use his strengths. And when there was Tiémoué Bakayoko and I by his side, he was incredible. I could project myself knowing that there was this superman behind me, running for all of us. It was truly amazing. Maybe I can understand that without playing with him or knowing him it’s hard for people to appreciate how important and good he is, but I think more and more people are realizing that having N ‘ Golo in your team greatly increases your chance of winning matches and tournaments. If you ask the great players of the world if they would like to have N’Golo in their team, they would all answer yes without hesitation ”, he launched, as a superb tribute, then placing him among the big names in football in this position.
Superman, Ballon d’Or and the dark side
“Football was a little different when I played for the very good teams in Spain and Barcelona, where we didn’t talk so much about races. But, definitely, N’Golo could have played in these two teams, he is at this level. There are Claude Makelele and Marcos Senna, a very good defensive midfielder with whom I played for Spain, but N’Golo is without a doubt one of the greatest in his position. I still don’t know how the Ballon d’Or is awarded, sometimes I am wrong in my prognosis, but, as a friend and former teammate for three years, I would like N’Golo to win this title. He will have a very good chance if he helps France to become European champions after having done so with Chelsea ”, he sent, just that, not forgetting the man behind the player.
“N’Golo is a quiet, shy boy, but when you get to know him you can really have fun with him.” He’s really funny when he’s in a good mood and at times in training. He also came to the back of the bus, to play cards or whatever, and we laughed a lot. Everyone knows how good a person he is. One day we had an appointment in the morning for a game in the evening and everyone was wondering where he was when he is normally always on time. It finally arrived and everyone started to cheer. Antonio asked him what had happened. He told us he was in a car accident and people were taking pictures of him and he wanted to be polite and agreed. His car was out of order but he still took the time to take pictures, even if it made him late ”, he said, revealing the dark side of the No. 8 of the Blues.
“But N’Golo also has a little dark side that I like, which I always see when I watch it on TV. He never loses his temper, but, if you look closely, you will see that he does not care about fouling or taking a yellow and that he will not apologize or go pamper his opponent, he will simply walk away. I like it and it sends the message to the opponent that N’Golo won’t be too nice on the pitch. To really be a top player, you need this. If you are nice in the field then you get eaten alive and I smile when I see his darker side », he concluded. This is what is called being a total fan.