N’Golo Kante: When Claudio Ranieri got revenge on Chelsea star for leaving Leicester City

  • Rob Swan

Claudio Ranieri has celebrated his 70th birthday (many happy returns, Claudio!), so let’s cast our minds back to the time he got revenge on N’Golo Kante for leaving Leicester City for Chelsea.

The Italian tactician is, of course, responsible for arguably the greatest feat of the Premier League era: winning the title with Leicester.

It’s still worth mentioning that the Foxes were 5,000/1 to win the 2015-16 Premier League title before a ball was kicked that season.

Leicester had finished the previous campaign with 41 points, six points above the relegation zone, and their decision to replace Nigel Pearson with Ranieri, who hadn’t managed in English football’s top flight for 11 years, raised many eyebrows.

Gary Lineker, one of Leicester’s most famous supporters, tweeted: “Claudio Ranieri? Really?” after the news was announced in July 2015.


Just over one year later, Lineker was presenting Match of the Day in his Leicester City underwear after his beloved Foxes won English football’s biggest prize for the first time in their 132-year history.


N'Golo Kante enjoyed a phenomenal season with Leicester

Leicester stunned the odds thanks to the incredible consistency shown by their first-team players that season.

N’Golo Kante, in his debut campaign in English football, was phenomenal all year.

A £5.6 million signing from Caen, Kante was a relatively unknown quantity when he signed for Leicester.


Ranieri managed to keep most of his key players for the 2016-17 season, including Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, but he couldn’t prevent Kante from completing a £32 million move to Chelsea.

"I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It's a dream come true for me," Kante told reporters at the time. "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.”


Video: Ranieri gets revenge on Kante

On Kante’s first visit back to the King Power Stadium, the lovable Frenchman came face-to-face with his former manager.

Ranieri, who shook the hands of every Chelsea player, grabbed Kante and playfully put him in a headlock.

The footage will always be funny to watch:

Did you spot the way Kante removed his glove before shaking Ranieri’s hand?


What a guy.

Even though Kante’s departure hurt Leicester - Ranieri, a victim of his own success, controversially lost his job in February 2017 - the Italian coach bore no ill-feeling towards one of football’s most popular players.

Now back in the Premier League with Watford, what Ranieri would give right now to have a player of Kante’s quality in his squad.

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