03 Jun Why N’Golo Kante deserves the Ballon d’Or over Lewandowski, Messi, Ronaldo & Co. in 2021
When N’Golo Kante walked into the France nationwide team camp in Good on Tuesday alongside Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, his Chelsea teammates, he was greeted by big cheers and applause. On Saturday night, the French squad and supervisor Didier Deschamps and his employees watched the Champions League closing collectively, as soon as once more in total awe of their No. 13’s efficiency.
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Even in spite of everything these years — 45 nationwide team caps and counting since 2016 — Kante nonetheless manages to shock even his closest associates and teammates with the performances he turns in from week to week.
When Kante arrived, finishing Les Bleus’ 26-man squad for the Euros, a number of the squad welcomed him with the Ballon d’Or remedy. It was half-joking, half-serious, however some teammates informed him he was on the golden path to get the golden ball. Others puzzled if he’d run the complete method from London to southern France forward of their pleasant with Wales (which the world champions received 3-0) whereas Deschamps, as all the time, had alternative banter. However deep down, the coach and this team understand how fortunate they’re to have such a participant in his squad. As Olivier Giroud informed Football4cast: “N’Golo is simply extraordinary. It is not simply the working and the hassle, or the balls recovered. It’s all the things he does. You actually really feel that you’re enjoying with 12 gamers when he’s there on the pitch.”
The Chelsea striker thinks, like lots of people, that Kante may and may win the Ballon d’Or on the finish of the yr. The sensation inside the French football world is that if Les Bleus have a extremely good Euros, the previous Caen and Leicester man will likely be proper on the high of the record.
Robert Lewandowski can even be a contender after he received Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich, setting a home report for many objectives in a season (41) alongside the way in which; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are all the time within the combine, home disappointments with Barcelona and Juventus apart, in addition to Kylian Mbappe or Karim Benzema if additionally they carry out this summer time. However Kante, who turned 30 on the finish of March, must be the favorite.
Because the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge on the finish of January, Kante has taken his recreation to the following degree. The German supervisor has all the time been a giant fan of Kante’s expertise and tried to recruit him at PSG. Collectively at Chelsea, they’ve labored loads on the Frenchman’s positioning, his ball retention and his ball development; Tuchel additionally gave him the arrogance and the liberty to permit him to roam and play like he did in opposition to Actual Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester Metropolis and different elite opponents.
Just like the Chelsea boss mentioned to RMC Sport after their 1-Zero win at Anfield again in March: “[Kante] is a present. With my employees, we won’t consider what he does. We get his knowledge after his video games and even after his coaching periods and we won’t consider his figures. He actually is a present.”
Paul Pogba has been an in depth good friend of Kante for years, however he too is flabbergasted. He informed French TV two weeks in the past: “Kante’s obtained all the things. He is good technically, with an excellent passing high quality, and he is all over the place on the pitch. He runs for 11 gamers. I even say he seems out of the bottom! You do not see him, and ‘poof,’ he is there! He will get the ball, he can end. He is all over the place. To have a participant like that by your facet, what extra are you able to ask for?”
There’s one other factor that appeals in relation to Kante, and that is how he would characterize victory for “common” gamers with a Ballon d’Or as an alternative of the everyday superstars. He has helped redefine how we watch football; it isn’t nearly strikers and aim scorers, however extra in regards to the gamers who battle for the team and sacrifice themselves for the better mission. Kante additionally represents those that needed to battle for all the things: in spite of everything, he solely made his skilled debut at 22 years of age, and in France’s third division. He could be an ideal post-pandemic winner, a refreshing winner, a humble and modest winner. He could be a extremely popular winner, too.
Wanting by the archives, no actual defensive midfielder has ever received the Ballon d’Or. Only one defensive participant, Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, has claimed the prize within the fashionable period; the closest to Kante’s place and profile would possibly be Lothar Matthaus, who received it in 1990, however the Germany nice had a really totally different model as a deep-lying playmaker or “sweeper.”
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Luka Modric, winner in 2018, was extra of a playmaker too. But when he obtained it within the World Cup yr — he guided Croatia to the ultimate, the place they misplaced to Les Bleus, and received his fourth Champions League title with Actual Madrid in 2018 — there isn’t any cause why Kante wouldn’t obtained it this yr if France do effectively on the Euros. Different comparisons for Kante, Franz Beckenbauer and Mathias Sammer, performed because the “No. 6” at occasions of their careers, however each males received the Ballon d’Or after dominant seasons as transformed centre-backs.
As a lot as Kante would like to win probably the most prestigious particular person award in world football, he would most likely hate it too. He appears to draw back from something that makes him the centre of consideration.
When France received the 2018 World Cup and celebrated just a few weeks later with the followers on the Stade de France, he was asking Benjamin Mendy to not sing the Kante music an excessive amount of. When he was made man of the match after Chelsea’s Champions League semifinal, second leg in opposition to Actual Madrid (he claimed the award in three of Chelsea’s six knockout video games on the highway to the title, and within the closing itself) he mentioned to a pitchside reporter that he did not really feel comfy doing an interview as a result of it was a team’s win, not simply his. After which he drove out of Stamford Bridge in his Mini…
That is Kante for you. He is so shy that you just by no means hear him communicate on the pitch, or very not often. With an enormous smile, Riyad Mahrez remembers one of many uncommon occasions he did: “After we had been at Leicester collectively, I knew I did not must defend as a result of Kante was behind me and he would defend for 2. And you know the way shy he’s so he did not use to say something. However in the future, throughout a recreation, I heard his little voice saying ‘hey Riyad, do you thoughts simply defending a bit of bit, please?'”
Off the sphere, it is fairly totally different although, as Pogba explains: “He cheats loads. So much. At card video games, board video games. Truthfully, I am telling the reality. He cheats. He says he would not cheat, however he does. He makes use of crafty. He is a wise child, N’Golo. Nevertheless it’s OK. You need to love him. He is probably the most beloved participant within the historical past of football. You have to love him; you can’t hate him, it isn’t attainable. He’s humble, type, skilled. He won’t ever complain. He’ll work.”
Attempting to win a card recreation in any respect prices mustn’t stop you from successful the Ballon d’Or. Up to now, 2021 belongs to Kante, and if the second a part of the yr is like the primary, will probably be unattainable to not give him the trophy.