Chelsea Football Club have confirmed the signing of N’Golo Kante from defending Premier League champions Leicester City for a fee believed to be around £30 million.
The defensive midfielder cost the Foxes £6 million when they brought him in from the French club Caen during the summer. He made 40 appearances in all competitions for Leicester as they went on to become surprise champions of the English top-flight.
The 25-year-old was instrumental in Leicester’s incredible league success and also impressed for France during this summer’s European Championships. The host nation reached the final of the competition before being beaten by Portugal and was part of the French squad throughout.
Speaking to Chelsea’s official website Kante said, “I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a dream come true for me. The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world was simply too good to turn down”.
Conte’s friend and fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri, who was Chelsea manager during the initial phase of Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the West London club and who led Leicester to title success last season, was disappointed to lose Kante and did everything he could to keep him. An official statement from the club said, “Despite the offer of a substantially improved, long-term contract, it became apparent that N’Golo’s wish was to join Chelsea”. The Foxes received a club record fee for the player.
The Foxes have found numerous members of their title-winning squad come under offer from fellow Premier League teams. Jamie Vardy, the Leicester City striker, turned down a move to Arsenal earlier this summer and the club’s mercurial winger Riyad Mahrez is also believed to be being chased by a number of top teams.
Chelsea’s Technical Director, Michael Emenalo, is delighted that the Blues have been able to sign up Kante who he believes is a ‘fantastic signing with exceptional quality’. He said, “He is a perfect fit in terms of Antonio Conte’s philosophies and the style of football he wants to play. For a player of his age he has already built up a wealth of experience and his exceptional quality will without doubt be a great addition to the team”.
Kante himself confirmed on the social networking site Instagram that it was the chance to work with Conte, along with the Italian’s words, that persuaded him to make the move to West London in spite of the fact that Chelsea have no European football to offer. He posted, “It is a great club, which has just recruited a great coach and want to reach high ambitions I share. The club’s project and the coach’s speech have convinced me to join this new ambitious adventure. I am now waiting to see my new club and give everything for a successful summer… And season of course!!”
The French player also paid thanks to his former club, saying, “This season, I…discovered the Premier League with @lcfc. I want to thank the leaders, my team-mates and Claudio Ranieri for this fantastic season that saw us winning the title of England. Their confidence and also the fans will forever remain in my memory. And I again thank you all”.
The 25-year-old was Claudio Ranieri’s first signing as Leicester boss and has become Antonio Conte’s second major signing of the summer, coming after the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi was signed from Marseille. He made the most tackles and interceptions in the Premier League last season and was part of the PFA’s Team of the Year.
Chelsea will be the fourth professional club that Kante has played for and he told the club’s website, “My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time as a Chelsea player. I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and helping the club achieve a lot of success”.