The French Connection
By James Snedaker and Witshi Bienaime
Leicester City Football Club were on top of the world less than a year ago. Against all odds, the Foxes had beaten out the Premier League giants to become only the sixth team to win the competition. Pundits from around the world were stunned by the dedication and drive of the minnows from the East Midlands.
At the epicenter of this brilliant team was N’Golo Kante, a young Frenchman who had been acquired during the summer for a fee of €8 million from Ligue 1 new boys Caen. The midfielder was far from a world class signing, but he showed great potential, having made a league high 145 tackles in Ligue 1. Within a year, this potential could be fully realized. In just his first season, he topped the tackling charts again and was voted into the PFA Team of the Year. An excellent season and a superb title win provided Kante his fair share of plaudits and interest from top premier league clubs. Keen to secure long term success, he jumped ship in the summer of 2016 to London giants Chelsea.
Since his blockbuster move, Leicester have plummeted, currently languishing just 6 points from the drop zone while Chelsea sit comfortably in first. Kante, yet again nearing the summit of the tackling charts, is a mainstay in a Chelsea side that no one seems likely to catch. However, although the loss of their dynamic frenchman seems to have severely injured Leicester's side, they have other significant issues that could have been fixed over the summer.
The first of these is their ageing defense. In their expectation smashing season, the Foxes were anchored by experienced center backs in Robert Huth and Wes Morgan. Despite both being over 30, their experience overruled their lack of pace and both were key to the title win. But their age eventually caught up to them, with the foxes conceding the 7th most goals so far this season.
The second problem is the fall of their star man Riyad Mahrez. With the loss of Kante, Leicester's midfield has been overrun, forcing the Algerian to play a more defensive role. With the Frenchman in the team, Mahrez could focus on running forward to provide an attacking threat while the center of the park was controlled by the dynamic duo of Kante and Drinkwater. The winger’s production has dropped severely since the summer, falling from 17 goals last season to a meager 5 strikes this term.
The departure of Leicester’s excellent Frenchman has caused the team to plummet down the table. BMHS student Nick Medina was equally disappointed with the loss of the foxes’ star man, calling him a “complete midfielder.” “Leicester did so well last season because they had Kante and when they lost him the team fell apart,” he said. It is clear that Kante will grow into one of the best players in the world, and the midlands club will be sure to regret their decisions if one day Chelsea ship in out for a ridiculous sum.
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