Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes N’Golo Kante’s unconventional career path separates him from some of the game’s biggest stars.
The Parisian midfielder progressed through the Boulogne academy having slipped under the radar of France’s major powerhouses, with many believing his small stature and selfless approach to the game would hinder his progression.
His breakthrough campaign came in France’s third-tier, the Championnat National, before Ligue 2 club Caen took a gamble on him in 2013. In Normandy, Kante guided the club to top-flight promotion in his debut season, before stabilising The Vikings in Ligue 1.
It was from the Stade Michel d’Ornano that Leicester were alerted to his talents, and in 2015 Claudio Ranieri bolstered his midfield options with the acquisition of Kante. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Frenchman’s industrious partnership with Danny Drinkwater led Leicester City to Premier League title glory.
Chelsea would ultimately pay £32m to bring the diminutive ball-winner to Stamford Bridge, where he has gone from strength to strength, but he could have been representing another London club had Wenger taken up an offer from his “best friend” to sign him even before he joined Leicester.
“The end of my career, N’Golo Kante”, Wenger responded on Ladbible’s YouTube channel when quizzed on his biggest transfer regrets.
“Because he played in a club in Paris where one of my best friends was a director and he told me, ‘please, I have a player, he is unbelievable, but no one wants him in France.’
“He [the friend] took him [Kante] in his car and travelled with him from club to club. And finally, a club in Division Three took Kante. It is an unbelievable story, you could make a film with him.
“And he is something you don’t find often: he wins the ball without making a foul and straight away he moves the ball forward.”
Since moving to Chelsea, Kante has enjoyed a glory-spangled career, both domestically and at international level. The World Cup winner has added another Premier League winner’s medal to his 2015/16 version with Leicester, three FA Cups, a Europa League and last season’s Champions League.