Europe’s best tackler… Five things Arsenal & Saints need to know about target

Arsenal and Southampton are very much two of the Premier League’s better footballing sides. Both clubs have an attractive playing style, progressive managers and try to go about the game in the ‘right way’, so it’s little surprise that they’re crossing swords for a transfer target…

Reports from the Daily Mail indicate that the pair, as well as Newcastle, are chasing Caen’s 24-year-old midfielder N’Golo Kante, who plies his trade in Ligue 1. Unless you’re a footballing hipster with an addiction to Football Weekly and a subscription to the Blizzard, you’ll probably know very little, if anything, about the enforcer, so to keep you time free of research this Bank Holiday weekend, we’ve gathered some ‘must knows’ about him… Enjoy!

Europe’s best tackler

Kante stats

The title rather gave this one away, but with the stats being so impressive we had to go into depth. Kante has won a staggering 118 tackles so far this season, which is the highest total of any player in Europe’s top five leagues (Ligue 1, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga) – albeit it’s not the best success percentage. The general consensus is that the best players on the planet are pooled into these divisions, making the Caen man the crème de la crème when comes to winning the ball back.

Dubbed the ‘new Makelele’

Makelele

Standing at 5ft. 6” with a squat, stocky frame, Kante has drawn comparisons with Claude Makelele. The former Real Madrid and Chelsea man reinvented the holding midfield position during his career, with many now referring to the role of sitting and shielding a defence as the ‘Makelele role’. Kante offers the same tenacious playing style as the former enforcer, but it remains to be seen if he can match his achievements.

Top talent

All told, Kante is a very promising player. At 24, he’s just about to break into what should be his peak years, and judging by his emergence, the sky is the limit. Eligible for Mali or France at international level, he could also make an impact on the global stage, so snapping him up early makes sense.

Helped Caen to Ligue 2 promotion last term

Caen are new kids on the block in French football’s top tier this season, with Ligue 2 promotion having been achieved last term. Kante was a big part of the team’s successful campaign, with his 38 appearances helping them to a third place finish, and a route back into the big time.

Bargain

£5m doesn’t get you much in modern day football, but such a sum is, according to reports, likely to be enough to persuade Caen to sell Kante. French football is by no means the financial force of many of Europe’s other divisions, so there is every chance the newly promoted side will struggle to turn down such a sum.