Chelsea ace N’Golo Kante has engaged his brain more fully and harnessed his indomitable bulldog spirit to develop into the complete midfield powerhouse, says ex-Blues star Claude Makelele.
The Stamford Bridge star will bid to pull the strings from the middle of the park when Chelsea take on Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday as Antonio Conte’s side try to complete a league and cup double.
Indefatigable Kante, 25, was been hugely influential in helping Chelsea secure a second Premier League title in the past three campaigns. But as well known as he is for his boundless energy, Makelele has identified a refinement that adds even more strength to his overall performances.
Former Leicester City schemer Kante, who was deservedly honoured with the Football Writers Association Player of the Year award recently, has widened his perspective on the pitch having fine-tuned his thought process amidst the heat of the battle, says Makelele.
The ex-France international, seen very much by pundits as the forerunner to Kante in his style of play, said: “Every time I watch Kante, I see so much desire in him, so much focus and so much determination to make himself a better player with every game. He was the heartbeat of the Leicester team, but it was also like taking a bulldog for a walk – you had to keep pulling him back because he had so much energy.
“Now he has added intellingence. He appreciates the position of his team-mates more and how to play in a more sophisticated system where it’s not all about running and tackling, but the decisions he makes.”
Makelele says Kante will dazzle even more brightly next season, and so son amongst European’s elite clubs, a stage denied him last season with the Blues’ failure to qualify. He added: “Some players are meant to be superstars, but some – like N’Golo and myself – must be happy making other people look good.
“Next season we will see him become even better because he will have the challenge of the Champions League. He is also part of a fantastic generation of young players coming through for France, which will also see him develop. And I am glad. People talk about the Makelele position, but I am old and it’s time everybody called it the Kante position. N’Golo deserves that.”