N’Golo Kante, the man of the match in the Champions League, covers so much area that former Chelsea midfielder and assistant head coach Eddie Newton compares him to “two players.”
Chelsea defeated Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday to win their first Champions League title since 2012, with Kai Havertz scoring the game-winning goal soon before half-time.
The France international won 11 of 15 duels, retrieved the ball 10 times for his side, and won four of seven aerial duels – no one on his squad had more.
Joe Cole, a former Chelsea midfielder, praised Kante’s performance, telling BT Sport, “I don’t think there’s a more essential player for his club in world football than Kante.”
Newton, who played for Chelsea from 1990 to 1999 and served as an assistant head coach in 2012 and 2015-16, agreed, calling Kante the Blues’ “motor.”
Newton told Stats Perform exclusively, “He’s a vital element of any squad. He’s the motor. He is a humble human being who is unconcerned about the razzmatazz. Every time he plays, he enhances his game. He practices how he plays. His levels are the same every time. He has a really strong attitude. He’s a joke physically and can cover so much territory that he’s like two players.
He motivates the players around him. It inspires you to go above and beyond. If you’re going to battle together, you’ll have to step up your game, and the natural human spirit will rise to the challenge. That’s what he does; he stimulates and encourages people to perform at a higher level.”
Mason Mount and Reece James, who are both anticipated to be chosen in Gareth Southgate’s final England team for Euro 2020, were also lauded by Newton.
Mount assisted on Havertz’s goal with one of three important passes – the most of any player on the field – and finished with a 96 percent pass completion percentage.
Meanwhile, James held City striker Raheem Sterling in check well, making more tackles and clearances. He made seven tackles and five clearance.
Back to the right James, who is a year younger than Mount, is a key figure for Chelsea over the next decade.