‘Kept giving the ball away’: TalkSPORT pundit slams £30m Chelsea man’s passing against Madrid

Darren Bent admitted that he felt N’Golo Kante was one of the few underperforming Chelsea players against Real Madrid.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Bent suggested the Frenchman’s display in the Bernabeu was below the standard set by the rest of his colleagues that night.

Overall, Chelsea can have few complaints about the manner in which they rattled Madrid’s cage, to the extent they nearly smashed it to pieces.

Chelsea’s nearly moment in Madrid

From the first blow of the referee’s whistle, Thomas Tuchel’s men went after their Spanish hosts, intent on creating a Champions League comeback for the ages.

But somehow, scoring three goals away from home in Europe was just not enough.

Madrid carved out a wonderful goal ten minutes from time, before Karim Benzema popped up again in the additional half an hour.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side sunk to their knees in relief. Chelsea did the same, but out of disbelief instead.

Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

However, the Blues should be extremely proud of their efforts, with pretty much every soldier who fought that night worthy of a medal.

From Antonio Rudiger at the back, to Mateo Kovacic in midfield and Mason Mount leading the charge, Tuchel’s team covered themselves in glory.

Except, as Bent claimed, one humble midfielder.

“You could say Chelsea were undone by three moments of magic. Chelsea were superb,” he said.

“To go to the Bernabeu and dominate possession as they did, play as well as they did.

“Every single one of their players stepped up. Probably the only one I was a little bit disappointed with was Kante. He kept giving the ball away.

“We are not used to seeing Kante perform in this manner. So that was probably the one I was a little disappointed with.”

What has happened to N’Golo?

Awarded the captain’s armband for the evening, everything was teed up for another Kante masterclass in the Champions League.

Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

He had mauled Madrid twice during Chelsea’s successful run through the competition last year; the same was to be expected on Tuesday.

But similar to the first leg at Stamford Bridge, the Parisian didn’t look quite right.

Kante still covered the pitch with his typical abundance of energy and was involved in Marcos Alonso’s disallowed goal.

Yet something was missing from the £30m (BBC) man, a problem that’s been occurring throughout the term.

“He doesn’t seem to be the player he’s been in previous seasons,” continued Bent.

“This season I think he’s struggled in possession. He’s given the ball away.

“I think in the first leg he was taken off at half time. That doesn’t happen to N’Golo Kante.

“As we saw last season when they won it, he steps up in these type of games. He didn’t do it. It will be interesting to see what they (Chelsea) do in the summer.”

N´Golo Kante of Chelsea FC during the UEFA Champions League match, Quarter Final, Second Leg, between Real Madrid and Chelsea FC played at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on April 12, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Ruben Albarran / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport)

To think this could be the end of Kante’s glorious tenure at the very top of football’s elite is a sad day for all involved in the sport.

However, his legacy will live on for an eternity, that we are sure of.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.