The course of Premier League history would have been changed had it not been for a late intervention from Antonio Conte, who actually stole N’Golo Kante away from Arsenal in 2016.
Kante came to limelight during Leicester City’s Premier League title-winning season, before starring at the heart of France’s midfield on their way to finishing as runners-up at Euro 2016.
The midfielder had already been on Arsene Wenger’s radar after his exploits for Caen, but the former Arsenal boss thought he had landed the player shortly after the European Championships.
However, according to the Telegraph, Conte launched a charm offensive of his own which proved successful after he convinced Kante in a phone conversation that he would win back-to-back Premier League winners’ medals, if he snubs Arsenal and move to Stamford Bridge instead.
The Italian coach delivered on his promise as Kante repeated his Leicester heroics at Chelsea, adding the PFA Player of the Year Award award, following a stellar season.
But, Wenger has already publicly disputed the suggestion that Kante’s transfer was influenced by the prospect of more silverware, and instead intimated he followed the money.
Speaking back in 2018, Arsene Wenger said: ‘He is one of the most influential midfielders I’ve seen play football. He constantly makes simple decisions and never over-complicates it.
- Paul Pogba names two players who are the future of football
- Tuchel makes Sergio Ramos prediction ahead of Madrid clash
- Tuchel explains the biggest difference between managing PSG & Chelsea
‘Have I looked to sign Kante? Yes. When he was in France and when he was at Leicester. I cannot explain everything but it is quite obvious when you look at where he has gone.
‘Was it the money? I do not want to talk about that. Transfers are transfers – you cannot explain absolutely everything.’
Kante has subsequently been outstanding in the Chelsea teams managed by Muarizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, with the German glad to be able to manage the 30-year-old.
‘He needs to accept I cuddle him! I do this a lot because I need it for myself so he has to live with it,’ said Tuchel ahead of the Champions League semifinal clash with Real Madrid.
‘He’s a nice guy, a shy person and he likes to be quiet he likes to have his own quality time. He’s not loud but I see him smile a lot.
‘I see him interact with everyone but on his own terms and very shy, very polite I am super happy that players like him exist to express yourself by pure performance.
‘It’s a pleasure to watch and what he is doing with the mentality of a real helper and will always give everything to help everyone out on the pitch – it’s a fantastic combination.’