N’Golo Kante’s stock has fallen a bit in recent years due to niggling injuries suffered by the diminutive midfielder. The Chelsea star is no longer the all-action footballer that he used to be, but his efficiency hasn’t waned that much.
Over the weekend, Kante reminded the world of his class during France’s win against Portugal in the UEFA Nations League. Starting alongside Paul Pogba and Adrian Rabiot in midfield, the 29-year-old outshined both teammates.
In the end, it was Kante's goal that separated both sides as France recorded a narrow 1-0 win against Cristiano Ronaldo and co. to qualify for the final of the UEFA Nations League.
This was one of Kante's best performances in a while for the national team. His form at Chelsea has been hot and cold but, having fully built up his fitness, he’s gradually returning to his best.
Maybe Kante’s less fancy style of play places his greatness in Les Bleus under the radar, but those who watch closely recognize his importance to this star-studded France team.
Portugal paraded a world-class midfield of Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva, but N'Golo Kante ensured France was able to match them in the middle of the park.
He doesn’t do the unconventional flicks or score the improbable golazo, but he’s the heartbeat of Les Bleus. And one of the people who recognize his importance to the French team is PSG legend Eric Rabesandratana.
"I would like to say that if I were a leader at PSG I would break the bank to sign N'Golo Kante," Rabesandratana said, as quoted by Goal.
"He was still huge yesterday. Kante is the player who would allow PSG to win the Champions League. We do not need Messi or anyone else."
In a France team that is full of world-class talents, it’s easy to not recognize the contributions of players like N'Golo Kante. Very often, the ones who score the goals and provide the assists get all the media attention.
However, it is clear that the Chelsea midfielder is as integral to Didier Deschamps’ side as Antonie Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe. Without him, the French midfield easily gets overrun by opposition sides and he proved that against Portugal.Published 16 Nov 2020, 17:16 IST