Is Kante the Best Player in the Premier League?
March 21, 2017 | Filed Under: Blog
N’Golo Kante shot to fame last season as he became an integral cog in the Leicester City machine that stormed to the Premier League title. And now he’s in the process of doing the same thing at Chelsea. There is no doubt that the Frenchman is the signing of the season for a second consecutive year, but is he the best player in the league?
In terms of the PFA Player of the Year award, Kante is leading the pack. The 25-year-old is ahead of teammates Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, as well as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Romelu Lukaku, who have put in fine performances for Manchester United and Everton respectively. Kante’s showings in the holding midfield role for the Blues have helped propel his side to an insurmountable lead at the top of the division. Going into the international break, Chelsea are 1/25 in the football betting to claim their second title in three seasons. This would also make Kante the first player in Premier League history to win consecutive titles with two separate clubs.
Kante’s role for Chelsea has been to act as a shield for the defence, close down players to control the midfield, and start attacks. But because he doesn’t often chip in with goals or assists, his performances can sometimes slip under the radar of the casual spectator. He makes the team tick, and his unrelenting style causes the passion of the players around him to increase as well.
To properly analyse what the former Leicester man does for his team, it is necessary to delve into the stats. In 27 starts this season the tenacious ball hunter has had 2233 touches of the ball, which equates to a touch every 1.1 minutes. This highlights just how much he hounds the opposition in the centre of the park.
Although this is impressive, his usual partner in the midfield Nemanja Matic is also receiving the ball with equal frequency. Kante outshines his counterpart defensively, though; the Frenchman has won 68 tackles compared to the Serbian’s 32, and Kante has also made 40 more recoveries and 20 more interceptions. In addition to all this, the Euro 2016 finalist has an amazing distribution rate in the opponent’s half.
His pass completion rate is 90.9% successful. In contrast, Kevin De Bruyne, arguably the best playmaker in the league, has a completion rate of 79.2% in the same area.
In terms of how useful he is to the team, Kante is invaluable. Antonio Conte only made a few minor changes to the side that put up a dismal title defence last season, yet he has managed to get them playing arguably better than they were when they won the league two years ago. It’s the summer signing’s relentless pressure, aggression, and will to win that has transformed Chelsea into an incredible beast this term. There is no doubt that Kante is one of the best players in the top flight right now, and if he can carry on these extreme levels of intensity in Europe, Chelsea could be rubbing shoulders with the elite again soon.