kante named player of the year

N’Golo Kante’s dynamic performances for double chasing

Chelsea received the ultimate accolade from his peers on

Sunday, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player

of the Year award.

Kante

The 26-year-old French midfielder saw off the likes of

Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Everton’s marksman Romelu

Lukaku for the prestigious award.

It may well not be the last piece of silverware he lifts this season

as unlike his former team-mates at Leicester — for whom he

was the driving force of a stunning title success last year — he

stands on the brink of becoming the first player to win

successive league titles with different clubs.

“To be chosen by the players to be player of the year means a

lot to me,” said Kante.

“It means the world to be chosen and it’s been two beautiful

seasons, one with Leicester, and we are in good form with

Chelsea. To be player of the year, it’s a great honour.”

Kante, who also faces an FA Cup final date against Arsenal, said

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, like Leicester’s title winning

manager Claudio Ranieri an Italian, had instilled a winning

mentality into the players.

“He knows what he wants from the players,” said Kante.

“He wants to win, and we work very, very, very hard in training

for him. He put a winning mentality into the squad, and everyone

wants to give their best for the team, and to make Chelsea win

titles.”

Kante, who had a modest playing career in France with Boulogne

and then Caen, said the award will not go to his head as he

acknowledges they face a tough battle to win either the league

or the Cup — Spurs are just four points behind them in the title

race and Arsenal will be desperate to rescue a poor season with

a trophy.

“We’re going to fight for both competitions,” said Kante.

“The cup is just one game, and the league six games, and we’re

going to give our best to win these two competitions.”

Kante’s performances this season has had former players

eulogising about his ability especially after he totally

overshadowed his compatriot and the world’s most expensive

player Paul Pogba in the 1-0 win over Manchester United in

March.

“I’d go as far to say that he’s (Kante) the best central midfield

player in the world on current form,” former England and

Chelsea great Frank Lampard told the BBC.

“Looking at the way he’s performing this year, he may not be

scoring lots of goals but what he’s giving to the team in the way

he’s playing, the driving force that he is, I cannot see anyone

else out there in world football better than him at the moment.”

Former Barcelona and England striker Gary Lineker said he had

the potential to be the greatest midfielder of all time if he

corrected one facet of his game.

“Bloody hell, if Kante starts scoring goals as well he’ll become

the best midfield player ever,” tweeted Lineker

Tottenham Hotspur — who would relish the title even more after

being beaten 4-2 by Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final on

Saturday — didn’t go away empty-handed.

Their goalscoring midfielder English international Dele Alli,

whom many thought should have been a contender for the

senior award, won the young player of the year award for the

second successive year.

Other winners included Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze who was

the women’s player of the year for a second occasion having

won it in 2014. Birmingham City’s Jess Carter won the young

player of the year award.

English football icon Davd Beckham followed among another

former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs in receiving

the PFA’s Merit award for his contribution to the game.

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