It has finally happened. Leicester City’s star man N’Golo Kante has departed the Foxes and moved to Chelsea in a deal worth £32 million.
For a player who was signed for under £6 million last summer, it represents an excellent profit for Leicester, but Kante was widely considered to be the best central midfielder in the Premier League last season, and was perhaps the most important cog in Claudio Ranieri’s well oiled machine as his team went on to claim the most sensational of title victories.
Leicester, though, planned for this eventuality. They knew Kante would be attracting the attention of bigger clubs thanks to his unrivaled ability to both read the game and run tirelessly. Earlier in the summer, Leicester City spent £13 million on Nampalys Mendy from Nice. Like Kante, he is French, he is not very tall at 5’6″, and he is an energetic and dynamic force in front of the defence. It all looks promising so far.
Crucially, as well, he has played under Ranieri before. Mendy was a member of the Monaco squad which won Ligue 2 under the Italian manager in 2012/13. He was so impressive to Ranieri, that the manager compared him to CLaude Makelele, and was gutted when he left for nearby Nice that summer.
In three seasons at Nice, Mendy was an influential and imposing figure on the midfield, and last season, captained Claude Puel’s men to an impressive fourth place finish in Ligue 1. Not bad for a player of just 24.
Mendy’s arrival in England though will be met with increased expectation. He is replacing one of the stars of the Premier League last season, and if Leicester start to leak goals or struggle, his performances could well be under even more intense scrutiny. Kante was vital to the way Leicester played, so Mendy will at least need to replicate that to allow the Foxes style to endure for another season.
Furthermore, Mendy, despite his impressive performances in France, is yet to play in the Champions League. Admittedly, Kante is in exactly the same boat, but arriving at a new club and making your Champions League debut is a lot of pressure to put on young shoulders.
Having said all this, Leicester City seem to have done a great job again. It was the same set of scouts that unearthed Kante that have recommended Mendy, and the club appear to have found the most like-for-like replacement for their star man available on the market.
At a reasonable price, Mendy will provide the side with some continuity from the Kante days, and will not cause a dramatic shift in playing style. Even if he turns out to be a slightly worse player than Kante, and Leicester fall a few places down the league, the signing is still the best they could possibly do in the circumstances.
Featured Image: ALl rights reserved by Golden Web