“It was a big blow for Leicester to lose N’Golo Kante but I’m not sure how much he has improved Chelsea so far. He was a big fish in a small pond last season but hasn’t made a massive impact since coming to London.”
This was part of an assessment from Harry Redknapp in his column for the Evening Standard, questioning whether the French midfielder has come close to justifying his reported price tag of £32m since heading to Stamford Bridge from Leicester.
It was his defensive contribution in providing a shield for the Leicester backline where Kante made the greatest impact last season.
No other Premier League midfielder trumped his 157 interceptions or his 126 tackles. In fact, only one other midfielder reached three figures for the latter.
Kante also ranked third for ball recoveries, totalling 326 across his 37 appearances.
The breakdown of these statistics are 4.24 interceptions per appearance, 3.41 tackles and 8.81 ball recoveries.
With Chelsea more focused on retaining possession than Leicester were, it is understandable that some of these numbers would have dropped. However, it is slightly alarming by how much.
Kante ranks second for recoveries behind ex-teammate Danny Drinkwater, making 66 in seven appearances. This average of 9.43 per appearance is an improvement.
However, his 12 successful tackles is fewer than Arsenal attacking winger Theo Walcott and fewer than half the number of Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Meanwhile, he is outside the top 10 midfielders for interceptions, making only 14 thus far.
Granted, the 25-year-old ranks as the best Chelsea midfielder for each of these three statistics, but there is a relatively big drop in tackles and interceptions that could be addressed.
A positive is that the Blues have only given up 33 chances from inside their box so far, which is the best return in the Premier League. This suggests Kante is proving a useful shield with his energy and positioning, even if his individual contribution has declined.
Chelsea are currently seventh in the Premier League despite their stinginess in terms of allowing shots at goal. It is 1/1 that they end the campaign finishing in the top four.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing