June 21, 2023, it’s a sad day for Chelsea supporters. They said goodbye to a true legend of the club, N’Golo Kante. The 32-year-old midfielder has ended his trophy-filled seven-year spell with Chelsea to begin a new chapter in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ittihad.
“My dream is to become a football player and try to win titles. Joining Chelsea is the perfect arrangement for me to achieve those dreams,” Kante said on the day he officially left. “The first day I joined Chelsea, I was told very early that the goal here is always to win titles. Always that.”
“I did it and I’m very grateful to my coaches, teammates and Chelsea supporters for helping me achieve this. These past few years have been amazing for me and I hope for the fans as well. “
Kante broke the hearts of many Chelsea fans that day, but for him, it’s time to start an exciting new chapter in his career. The French midfielder, along with many famous players in the Premier League, has left English shores for the Middle East, as the Saudi Pro League “takes over” in a revolutionary summer transfer window.
After his first matches for Al-Ittihad, a team once coached by former Tottenham coach Nuno Espirito Santo, Kante is clearly enjoying his time here in a new role. During his days at Chelsea, the France international was never really one to push too far forward and he was certainly not rated highly for his attacking ability.
Playing for Al-Ittihad, in 16 matches in all competitions, he scored one goal and assisted four times. However, perhaps it is not all that Kante is.
Despite the attractive salaries offered, some stars who moved in the summer were not happy during their time playing in Saudi, notably his teammate Kazim Benzema. However, this does not seem to be the case with Kante. According to French news agency L’Equipe, Kante rates the Saudi Pro League’s standards as similar to some of Europe’s top leagues.
Kante seems to be enjoying his new life in Saudi Arabia. And in recent matches, the Blues are also returning to their usual level in a much colder England.
The midfield trio of Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo have gradually caught up with Chelsea’s style of play in recent matches. And they partly fill the void of Kante, a true symbol of the club. Although the class of this trio will probably never be able to replace the Frenchman, they are the nucleus to start building a new midfield for the coming years.
Dang Nguyen | 16:24 November 17, 2023