Just as a fulcrum serve as the support upon which a lever pivots, this is a lucid similitude of N’ Golo Kante’s influence in Chelsea; playing an integral part for the London club en route to becoming the European Champion for the second time in 9 years. But such quality performance is greeted with a lot of ovation and as such, the much coveted Ballon d’Or is the ultimate reward to crown N’Golo Kante’s remarkable 2020/21 season.
Assiduous would be a nice way to put it. Vivacious, inexorable display throughout the competition would be a more accurate description of Kante’s work rate in the UEFA Champions League where his awe-inspiring performances propelled the underdog Chelsea to win the European silverware at the expense of the much favoured Premier League Champions Manchester City.
The Chelsea midfield marshal has been widely touted as the man to win the biggest individual player award; the Ballon d’Or owing to the immense contribution he made in bringing the European crown to Stamford Bridge after a 9-year wait. This exalted status he has earned was not attained by fluke. He worked for it and consistency was the key to the attainment of this feat. All through the campaign, he consistently emerged as the Man of the Match. Against Athletico Madrid he was. Against Real Madrid he was, shattering the hopes of the two Spanish Giants of a fruitful European season. He wrapped it up with an exhilarating display at Estadio De Dragao to ensure Thomas Tuchel claim his third successive victory over Spanish tactician Pep Guardiola in 2021.
Not only is he holding Chelsea’s midfield under lock and key, sitting in the engine room to ride the Blues to victory, his hard-tackling, great ball recovery and high interception level has distinguished him among his peers playing the same position. As if that is not enough, the defensive-cum-attacking midfielder’s ability to be everywhere on the pitch; safeguarding the teams defense at the appropriate time, launching attack as at and when due and scoring goals when need be all sum up to the reason why N’Golo Kante is one in a million — a gift to any team that has the “magnificent” central midfielder. Infact, Kante has modernised football. He has redefined the way we watch the game in the sense that he has changed the common ideology that only the goalscorer deserves to be glorified. Football is now about who made the most sacrifice towards the success of a team, much thanks to N’Golo Kante.
No wonder every fan loves and chant the name N’Golo Kante and even the action of his country men of welcoming him with huge cheers and applause to the team’s squad on his arrival for the Euro 2020 is an attestation to this fact. His club and country’s mate Olivier Giroud appreciating the qualities embedded in the midfielder told ESPN that: ” N’Golo is just extraordinary. It’s not just the running and the effort, or the balls recovered. It is everything he does. You really feel that you are playing with 12 players when he is there on the pitch.”
Another country teammate and Manchester United star Paul Pogba in an interview with French TV substantiated Olivier Giroud’s position about Kante with the following words: ” Kante’s got everything. He’s good technically, with a good passing quality, and he’s everywhere on the pitch. He runs for 11 players. I even say he appears out of the ground! You don’t see him, and ‘poof,’ he’s there! He gets the ball, he can finish. He’s everywhere. To have a player like that by your side, what more can you ask for?.”
Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole, engrossed with an astonishing performance from the Chelsea’s number “7” has this to say: ” I don’t think there is a more important player for his team in the world than N’Golo Kante. He drove the team. I played with Claude Makalele and I thought he was the best in that position until I saw this kid. He his Makalele plus extras.”
From a garbage picker to a Champions League winner and a prospective Ballon d’Or winner, indeed Kante’s journey till this stage has been characterized with coarseness. But he has proved to be one of the best in the craft and competition to claim the biggest individual award in world football is inevitable. Thus, the French midfielder is likely to face strong opposition like domestic record-breaking Robert Lewandoski, Dortmund’s sensation Erling Braut Haaland, the usual Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — who have over the years cemented their status of being the greatest of all time and many others to mention but a few players who had a successful stint in the just concluded season.
The competition however will put a challenge to N’Golo Kante to replicate his impressive form in the soon-to-begin Euro 2020 in order to stand out among equals in the race for the prestigious best player of the year award in 2021. But the question to be asked is whether the 30-year-old can keep the ball rolling in the Euros?. This man is one that is devoid of inconsistency in his game play and though, faced with injury in recent times, he has failed to decline his productivity winning the Premier League on two occasions, the PFA Player of the Year Award among other accolades in the past years.
Winning the Ballon d’Or is not a walk in the park. Whether N’Golo Kante winning the award amount to an overstatement or not, it is pertinent to state that the first half of 2021 has been a landmark season for him. If we can witness a replay of the first part of the year in the second (in Euros), definitely no other person deserves the award other than N’Golo Kante.