N’Golo Kante is currently the bookmakers’ overwhelming favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award following a magnificent debut campaign with Chelsea.
The French midfielder, who played a pivotal role in Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph last season before sealing a £32 million switch to Stamford Bridge, is as short as 1/12 on to win the coveted individual accolade that he was a little unfortunate to miss out on last season.
Kante has made a huge impact with Chelsea, who sit ten points clear at the top of the league with 10 matches remaining, especially in the big matches. His performances during the second half of the season, in particular, have been remarkable.
Antonio Conte’s side have won all but two of their previous 12 matches in all competitions and Kante’s influence in all those games cannot be understated. Those two matches - against Liverpool at Anfield and away to Burnley - both finished 1-1.
Ahead of the match against Burnley at Turf Moor, the Clarets’ outspoken midfielder Joey Barton told talkSPORT - per Sky Sports - that Kante was the “best player in the Premier League.”
"I'm focused on Burnley,” he said. “I’ve got N'Golo Kante and Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. I've got to use every bit of energy I've got trying to turn in a performance against arguably the best player in the league.”
Barton's opinion seems to have changed
A few days later and Barton produced an impressive display up against Kante and co. He was undoubtedly one of the game’s standout performers and Sean Dyche’s men battled hard for their point.
But it seems that match had changed Barton’s opinion on Kante.
The 34-year-old hinted that, in his opinion, the indefatigable Frenchman isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.
“In England, there are boxes and it is impossible to get out of them,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche, per Goal. “At the moment, for example, everyone swears by N’Golo Kante. It’s fashionable.
“For pundits, he’s the best midfielder in the world. That’s not the case – he’s very good, but I played against him three weeks ago.
“He’s a phenomenal destroyer who played in a phenomenal team, but he’s not a creator. And it’s impossible to be so definitive with a player who has not played in the Champions League.
“Two years ago, no-one knew who he was and I was surprised that the scouts missed him.”
Barton also admits he's sceptical of Dimitri Payet
Barton went on to make similar comments about Dimitri Payet.
“I’m sceptical, like Dimitri Payet,” he added. “He was incredible last season with West Ham, which surprised everyone, including me. When I was with Marseille and he played with Lille, he was only seen against Sochaux and Brest – never in the big games. It was the same with OM afterwards.
“But in England, it was different after his first game. Except, no big club made a move for him: it was China or Marseille? Why?
“We focus too much on a player when he works well, we don’t focus on how he behaves in difficulty. If you look at Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG, he was very consistent – that’s the mark of a great.”
Is Joey Barton right about N’Golo Kante - or is he talking rubbish? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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