On this day: Chelsea sign N'Golo Kante from Leicester City for £32 million

  • Tom Ward
N'Golo Kante

Chelsea completed the signing of French midfielder N’Golo Kante from Premier League champions Leicester City for a reported fee of £32 million on this day in 2016.

The then 25-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge after winning the league title in his one and only season with the Foxes. 

He was also part of the France squad that reached the final of Euro 2016.

Kante, who signed a five-year contract, said: “I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a dream come true for me.

“The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world was simply too good to turn down,” he added.  

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The following year, he became the first football player since former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona in 1993 to win back-to-back top flight titles in England with two different clubs.  

Kante also won the FA Cup with Antonio Conte’s side and was named the Premier League’s Player of the Season in 2016/17.

He has also won both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League trophies during his five-year spell at Stamford Bridge.  

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Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard described Kante as as a “big-game” player after he played a starring role as the Blues beat Manchester City 1-0 at the Estadio do Dragao.

When asked about Kante’s performances for both club and country, Lampard told BBC Sport: “When I arrived at Chelsea he’d been off the back of playing so regularly for a few seasons because everyone relies on him so much, he’d had an injury that took him into my first season, we missed him a lot.

“You seriously miss N’Golo in big games because he’s a big-game player. Nobody will want to play against him because of the attributes he’s got.

“In those big games, finals, tournament football, players like N’Golo are just priceless.

“The main reason why he’s so good is that he’s the best in the world at being a destructor.

“When I say destructor I’m talking about winning the ball back. To win the ball back with his anticipation, having the speed to get tight and close distances, his main attribute for me is destruction, leaving areas to win balls back.

“An old-fashioned holding midfield player you’d say would sit in front of the back four, [Claude] Makelele did it years ago for Chelsea so well.”

N'Golo Kante tackles Raheem Sterling

However, Lampard didn’t stop there either, as he insists that ‘he can do multiple jobs at the same time.’

He added: “But he has so much more to his game. When you see the distances he closes to get in front of people, that acceleration and speed, that is something special to him, it’s very unique.

“I got asked it a lot, my feeling was that he had so many attributes that were more than just that, I was holding him back by saying, ‘please just sit there’.

“You have to allow N’Golo to travel with the ball, he can find passes I think people don’t give him credit for, his close control in tight areas is fantastic as well.

“He can do multiple jobs at the same time. He makes people around him better, he helps everybody.

“He’s exactly how you’d expect from the outside, nothing’s an act, he’s very humble, very quiet, he doesn’t want loads of conversation.

“The problem I found with him more than anything was trying to hold him back in training because every day you train and you let him off the leash in an opposed session he does that, and you have to try to pull him back because he can just put that output into anything he does.

“He’s incredible, he’s exactly what you see from the outside.”

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