We all see the stats, the goals, the fancy footwork, the dribbles but most of the time the heart and soul of the team gets left out, and he is the defensive midfielder. Even though people talk only about the great goalscorers of the top assisters of all time, the defensive midfield plays a vital role in teams.
Let us today analyse one such defensive midfielder who goes by the name of N’golo Kante and how he is the first line of protection to the defenders behind him. His last season may have been a bit injury prone which is why the stats don’t do justice, but we have seen him play an integral part in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 premier league seasons where he won the premier league and was one of the most prominent performers in both the teams.
He was the engine that lead both of those teams. Let us, therefore, discuss some of the things that make him a world-class defensive midfielder. He has this incredible ability to do what you can call blindside defending. He tackles these players from their blind spot, which is why nobody sees him coming.
These are usually the tackles that are put from behind the player and are so very easy to get wrong. Still, N’Golo Kante has mastered this timely art which is very useful in tight situations and helps well with his recovery rate and also to break up the opposition attacks.
He is, without a doubt, an excellent reader of the game and his sudden movement and fakes also help him keep possession of the ball. Another great asset that he possesses is his ability to put those long balls which have become so very important in the way the modern game is played.
This is especially helpful when playing against the teams that have either a packed midfield or prefer to press higher up the field as you can take out most of the team with one long and clinical pass. Even though it may not be his greatest asset, he can also take shots from long range which is always helpful for any midfielder.
In the 22 games that he played last season he has 158 recoveries, 44 interceptions, 40 accurate long balls and 1,134 passes strung together but what is the most important is that he is willing to track back and do the dirty work day in and day out.
He outran every other player on the pitch in the UEFA Super Cup despite not being fully fit. Frank Lampard even quoted, “He said to me at half-time in extra-time that his legs were finished, his legs were dead, and then he’s sprinting 50 yards to cover.” If that doesn’t yell dedication, I don’t know what does.
He can slog it out and is one of the most level headed and sweet footballers around. Every manager till date has done nothing but shower praises of him, and I feel that the ability to be so humble and coachable even after achieving so much in your life is what makes him not only a great footballer but also a fantastic sportsperson.