Chelsea have completed the signing of N’Golo Kante from Premier League champions Leicester City on a five-year contract.
Leicester offered Kante a “substantially improved, long-term contract” earlier in the close season but, having accepted the player’s desire to leave the King Power Stadium, they have agreed to a club-record sale – reported to be in the region of £32million.
Kante was a largely unheralded signing from Caen last season but proved to be a star performer as Claudio Ranieri’s men completed a remarkable run to the title and won a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
The 25-year-old also secured his international breakthrough with France and made four appearances at Euro 2016 for the host nation, who were beaten 1-0 by Portugal in last weekend’s final.
Kante becomes Chelsea’s second major close-season-season signing following Belgium forward Michy Batshuayi’s arrival from Marseille and is set to be a key pillar of new boss Antonio Conte’s rebuilding job at Chelsea.
“I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” Kante told Chelsea’s official website. “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.
“My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time as a Chelsea player. I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and helping the club achieve a lot of success.”
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo added: “N’Golo is a fantastic signing ahead of the new season and we are delighted to have been able to bring such a talented player to the club.
“He is a perfect fit in terms of Antonio Conte’s philosophies and the style of football he wants to play. For a player of his age he has already built up a wealth of experience and his exceptional quality will without doubt be a great addition to the team.”
The Stamford Bridge outfit endured a torrid Premier League title defence last season, with defeat to Leicester in December costing Jose Mourinho his job before interim manager Guus Hiddink oversaw a recovery of sorts to finish 10th.
Speaking at his first news conference as Chelsea boss on Thursday, Conte suggested signings such as Kante were imminent in order to bolster his side’s prospects of a return to the upper reaches of the table.
“I am sure that in the coming days we can reach our target to reinforce the team, to go closer to the other teams that now seem to stay higher in the table compared to Chelsea,” he said.
“In the coming days, we can buy one, two, three players. Players that can reinforce us for the season as it will be very, very tough.”