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Leeds United’s Mateusz Klich hails Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante among hardest midfielders to play against

Leeds United’s Mateusz Klich – via Sportowe Fakty – has hailed Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante as being among the hardest midfielders he faced during the Premier League season.

Klich enjoyed his first taste of English top-flight football this term after helping Marcelo Bielsa’s side secure their promotion. He remained a key aspect of the Argentine’s plans, starting 28 of his 35 appearances.

Bielsa trusted the 30-year-old to open the Whites’ trip to Chelsea, but opted to bench him for the reverse fixture. Leeds lost 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in December before holding Thomas Tuchel’s men to a point in March.

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Kante anchored Chelsea’s engine room on both occasions and clearly left an impression on Klich. The Poland international ranks the Frenchman among the top-three midfielders in the league and joked he’s alongside him and Kevin de Bruyne.

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“For sure, N’Golo Kante is one of the best defensive midfielders,” Klich said. “With our one-on-one style of play, I already know who I’m going to run for before the game.

“Running after him, you could see that he was doing everything. He is a player who shows up out of nowhere and is difficult to play against. For sure, Kante would be in such top-three midfielders [in the Premier League].

“Kevin De Bruyne would be in the top-three. And it’s hard to say who is third, because there are many good players in the Premier League. The third one seems to be me.”

TBR’s view: Kante shut Klich down in Leeds loss

Klich made a telling contribution to Leeds’ return to the top-flight earlier in the season but saw his importance regress. All of his appearances from the bench came after the turn of the year while his creative touch also slowed.

Only one of Klich’s four goals for the season came in 2021 while the last of his five assists came in December. His game time also took a step back as he effectively became a passenger, at times. But he offers Bielsa more than creativity when on form.

The 30-cap dynamo is often a willing runner in the centre able to carry possession and link defence with offence. His quick passing can get him out of tight situations, but he can be shut out by the right opponent.

Kante was certainly that in December alongside Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, with the Frenchman dominating the midfield battle. He shut down Klich’s passing lanes and set the Blues on the front foot to seal the win with a performance typical of the World Cup winner.

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