The Premier League’s most influential player?
An eyebrow-raising stat has been unearthed by Sky Sports today, proving once and for all the immense value of Frenchman N’Golo Kante.
Upon arriving at Leicester from French club Caen in 2015, Kante was a relative unknown, with his key characteristics listed as his stamina and his ability to break up play.
Since last summer, regular viewers of the Premier League have witnessed Kante do just this, and so much more.
The midfield dynamo has been an absolute revelation in England, leading Leicester City to an unprecedented Premier League crown last season.
It was he, with his powerful midfield performances, that led the Foxes to their first ever Premier League win. Not Jamie Vardy, and not Riyad Mahrez.
I’m taking nothing away from the latter-mentioned pair, as they were both brilliant. But the fact that Kante did not crack the top twenty players at this year’s Ballon D’Or ceremony, while his former teammates both managed to place in the top ten, proves just how underappreciated the Frenchman is.
Without Kante in the team last season, Claudio Ranieri’s side struggled badly, while their underwhelming performance thus far in this season’s Premier League campaign only serves to underline the fact that without the all-action stylings of their former enforcer, they are not half the team they once were.
Kante’s exemplary form last year earned him a big money move to London giants Chelsea over the summer, with Antonio Conte viewing the hard-working, do-it-simple style of the Parisian as the ideal addition to his squad.
Unsurprisingly, the French international has fitted in seamlessly, putting a couple of dodgy early season displays behind him as his manager found the perfect spot for him in front of the blues three centre-halves.
This leads us to the incredible statistic released earlier today by Sky Sports.
Since his arrival in England, Kante’s two teams have picked up 67 points in 55 games when the Frenchman has been missing.
However, when he has been fit and playing, his sides have racked up a staggering 120 points in just 53 games.
That means that, give or take a few points, the midfielder’s sides pick up twice as many points when he is on the pitch as when he is off it.
The next player on the points gained list over the same time period is Nacho Monreal of Arsenal, who sits a full 19 points behind on 101.
Every successful team needs a fulcrum. A player who can be depended on week in, week out to control proceedings in the middle of the park, without getting the bright-light coverage of the likes of Lionel Messi, or even Riyad Mahrez.
Barcelona have Sergio Busquets, Real Madrid have Toni Kroos. And Chelsea have Kante.
He may not have the technical ability of other household names like those mentioned above. He may not spread pinpoint 40 yard passes to teammates every game, but he is every bit as important to his side as any other midfielder on the planet is to theirs.
The sooner everyone starts to come to terms with just how crucial N’Golo Kante is to every team that he lines out for, the sooner he can start to receive some of the long-overdue recognition that his world-class performances deserve.