Sunday, July 23, 2017

N’Golo Kante the Duracell bunny of the Premier League

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 24 Apr 2017

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Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante was crowned as the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night

There is a famous advertisement on British television advertising Duracell batteries that show a toy bunny rabbit powered by Duracell out running other toy creatures powered by other brands of battery.

This ad is highly familiar and the Premier League has its very own Duracell bunny in Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante.

The former-Leicester star was rewarded for his performances this season by being crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night.

Well, the award was supposedly meant for teammate Eden Hazard, but Kante intercepted it before it could get to the Belgian!

Kante is a much-deserved winner

This award could not have been given to a more deserved winner. In years gone by I am not sure this award would have found its way to a defensive midfielder, as often it is a thankless role. However, times are changing and Kante’s effect on his team from his position is impossible to ignore.

Quite simply Kante is the best player in his position in the Premier League. Virtually every successful team in the past has had a quality defensive midfielder. He is usually a guy who does the donkey work and gives the ball to the more technically gifted players.

However, Kante is not just a midfield destroyer. He can spring counter-attacks and bound forward, especially with Nemanja Matic as his midfield partner. He seems to have boundless energy and there is very little ground he does not cover doing a Chelsea game.

Why he has been more influential than Paul Pogba

I saw an interview with Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba the other day in which the United star compared his goalscoring stats to his international teammate. That was a naïve attempt to deflect the fact that Pogba has been poor since his world-record move from Juventus.

To even try and compare himself to Kante is simply ridiculous. They both may play in midfield, but are two very different players, doing very different jobs. If I was asked to say who was a complete midfielder I would say Pogba. However, that statement would not be made lightly.

In truth, Pogba has been unlucky at Manchester United and he does have massive potential to improve at Old Trafford. However, this season Kante has been the more influential player of the pair.

There is one main reason why Kante has been more influential and that is he has stepped into a new team and his influence has spread. A team that finished tenth in the Premier League last season look set to be champions this season.

One of the biggest reasons for that transformation has been Kante’s ability to break up opposition attacks and set the Blues on the attack. He does a simple but vital job for Chelsea.

Paul Pogba’s day will come, but he is regarded as a more attacking player. He could not do what Kante does with the same efficiency.

Set for back-to-back titles

The Premier League title race may be back on, but Chelsea have the title in their grasp and are now odds of 1/7 to be crowned champions this season. Tottenham are now only four points behind Antonio Conte’s side.

But, a weekend semi-final FA Cup defeat by the Blues may just swing the psychological advantage in Chelsea’s favour. If Tottenham had come out on top in that semi-final then the Blues may have felt a slight chink in their confidence.

As it is Chelsea saw that semi-final through with a 4-2 victory and could now be set to win a domestic double this season. Kante has been a key part of that success this season, just as he was in Leicester’s shock title victory last season.

The Premier League’s Duracell bunny is set for back-to-back English titles. By all accounts, the midfielder is more like a mouse than a bunny in terms of vocal presence in the dressing room.

However, despite his quiet persona and small stature, N’Golo Kante has to be regarded as one of the giants of the Premier League. Understated and undervalued, but he is simply a class act. Well done N’Golo you richly deserve the award.

Is N’Golo Kante the best defensive midfielder in European football?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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