Liam Toomey, editor of The Athletic, tells a little-known story that took place four days before the 2019 Europa League final; A regular training session under Sarri, Kante was forced to leave after many thought he had sustained a serious knee injury. Kante didn’t train for three days, and on the last day he pushed himself into a very short period of final training. (2)
The Italian decided to start with him in the final despite all that. Kante was brilliant as usual, and contributed to Chelsea’s control of the midfield and closed the roads to Arsenal’s attacks as usual, but it was Lampard who suffered the effects of this decision the following season, for the first time since Leicester brought him to England, Kante’s injuries prevented him from participating primarily in Most of the season.
Lampard’s first season passed with great brilliance from Kovacic, accompanied by Jorginho in the axis, and sometimes Mount joined them as a late playmaker in No. 8, but with the beginning of the following season, and Kante’s return from his injury, specifically last October, “Le Parisien” published The French newspaper reported on the escalating tension between the brown Frenchman and his coach, due to the latter’s refusal to allow him to leave the training to attend the wedding of one of his close friends, which Kante did not accept optimally. (3)
If you add to this the fact that Lampard did not like having Kante in his squad at all, and preferred Kovacic over him, you will understand that the reports circulating last summer of his desire to leave were not just smoke without fire.
David Ornstein, one of the strong sources on transfer news in England, also confirmed in October that Abramovich would not waste Kante at any cost, and denied any possibility of the Frenchman leaving, but this was in contrast to what later emerged about Conte’s strong desire to include him at Inter. During the winter transfer window, so the most likely possibility that Kante really wanted to leave, but the possibility of sacking Lampard, after a poor start to the season, was what kept him. (4) (5)
Tuchel was right, and this is nothing new for Kante. What was new was that “the volume and intensity of what he does” according to the German were not only an expression of the glory years under Ranieri and Conte, but in fact, even in Kanté’s worst years in England, the “volume and intensity of what he did” was truly exceptional.
In another analysis of “Tifo Football” at the end of 2020, Kante was the best Premier League player on the scale of “real interceptions” of the ball. Real interceptions are a statistic that collects the number of times a player stops the opponent’s passes, whether by intercepting or saving, even if he does not possess the ball afterwards. (6)
Kante had the highest rate in the entire Premier League, a very small difference from the Englishman, Matty Cash, the back of Aston Villa, and by adjusting this rate relative to the amount of possession the opponent gets, the rate of Kanti in real interceptions becomes about 6 times per 1000 touches to the opponent. Please note that we are talking about the opponent’s touches, not his passes.
The return leg against Atleti was Kante’s real start with Tuchel, who stated that he had always dreamed of coaching him, but his best performances came in the two Real Madrid matches; In the first, Kante managed to complete 6 successful dribbles, surpassing Christian Pulisic by one, and in the return, he was the most intercepted player of his team five times, and the most creative three times. The phrase “the volume and intensity of what he does” was not limited to defensive missions only.
Add to the above the fact that the Frenchman was the most sprinted at Chelsea this season, averaging about 10 and a half kilometers per game, and the fact that he carried out the most sprints among all Chelsea midfielders with 660 meters per match.
All of this is beautiful and wonderful, but the real transformation of Kante’s current season is not only about quantity, but also about quality. This is what you gain when you sign a coach of Tuchel’s size, who is superior to Lampard in almost every aspect of the job, despite the language barrier, and despite the fact that Tuchel was not a former legend for Chelsea, or any other club.
In another analysis, analyst John Muller explains through his personal blog that the idea of the dual pivot has dominated most of the continent’s coaches this season, from Guardiola to Klopp to establishing himself in Paris, even before coming to Chelsea.
The idea is simple; Playing three defenders with two forwards on the pivot while building play gives the team exceptional solidity in the face of quick turnarounds if they fail to get the ball out. The idea itself arose due to the escalation of pressure in recent years, and the focus of many coaches on this stage of play, which created the need to focus on the opposite stage by extension.
This was a strong tactical boost for Kante after two years of experiences with Sarri and Lampard. his shows.
“It’s not only the best way for me, but for the team in general. It’s better to be next to a player who can be late and cover when I’m going, and vice versa.”
(Kante on his role with Thomas Tuchel last March) (2)
This is evident in a fundamental difference between the version of Kante Lampard and the version with Tuchel. With the first, Kante needed a larger “quantum” with less effectiveness, and the opposite with the German, in an organization that suited his defensive capabilities, and released his bridle in the effective offensive contribution.
Kante is an addition to any team, as Tuchel himself mentioned before the return leg against Real Madrid in early May, but even a player like Kante can improve and invest his abilities better if the coach can build the tactical base that suits him, whether in the case of possession or pressure.
“He won every possible tournament except the Champions League, we hope he will do everything in his power to win it.”
(Thomas Tuchel on Kante before the return leg against Real Madrid)
We will be completely frank; We did not compare Kante with the rest of the candidates for the Ballon d’Or this year in an objective comparison. We did not give you a statistical breakdown of what Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Robin Diach or Lewandowski did so that we could convince you that he deserved it. Rather, we will tell you another confession; Our siding with N’Golo Kante in the Ballon d’Or battle may be quite emotional and the product of the present glorious moment he and his team are experiencing.
In fact, the whole idea could be torpedoed if we take into account the fact that the year has not even passed, and that no one can predict how Kante will perform with Chelsea Tuchel at the beginning of next season until the award winner is announced, and that Kante himself has been trapped in injuries and bench until the time It’s close, and it hasn’t been this cool since early 2020.
It’s okay, it all really makes sense. Perhaps the balloon Kanté does not logically deserve a role, and there may have been someone better than him or more influential over the past months. This seems difficult to imagine now but it is a possibility, but the question is; If a player like him doesn’t win it now, when?
What is meant by “a player like him” is that he is the complete opposite of the criteria for this award, if there are criteria at all. He is not a marketing face by any measure, not handsome by the traditional Western standards of handsomeness, and is not active on social media platforms to any degree, and is not interested in taking off his shirt and screaming whenever he is drawn The ball is from the opponent, and unfortunately he does not play in Real Madrid or Barcelona, in addition to being brown, which is a rare trait among the winners of this award to our knowledge, and most importantly; Not “skillful” in the common sense of the word among the general masses of football.
When will Kante, or a player like him, win an award like the Ballon d’Or, if not in a season like this one in which the likes of Messi and Ronaldo have clearly fallen back from their usual superstar standards? Isn’t it time to treat the rest of the game’s influencers with equal importance and appreciation? Was Kante so essential to the Blues’ champions victory that it’s hard to imagine without Kante? Isn’t that what brought the same award to others before? (7) (8)
Perhaps all of this is worthless because the struggle for the award is often settled in the media, the only area of football in which Kante is not good in any way, but even if he does not win it, and even if he is not among the nominations, perhaps Kante’s true value will still be known Being one of the few who remind us of how ridiculous this award is, and all the public struggles that accompany it each year.