At the peak of his powers Paul Scholes was underappreciated to say the least.
He was the finest midfielder of his generation, the complete player and remarkably loyal to his beloved Manchester United. If anything, Scholes became a victim of his own meekness. He wasn’t a club captain like Steven Gerrard or a celebrity like David Beckham. Scholes was the humble genius, a superstar only in the eyes of megastars such as Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
N’Golo Kante, like Scholes, is short in stature; at 5ft 5 inches he is one of the shortest players in the Premier League. His achievements this season have been overlooked due to the rise of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the two men accredited with Leicester City’s phenomenal season so far.
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The Foxes are top of the league; it’s quite a turn around when you consider their position this time last year before Kante had arrived at the club. Now Leicester are considered to be title contenders, assuming the goals of Vardy and the tricks of Mahrez don’t dry up.
However, Leicester need to also pray that Kante stays in top form – he may not make the headlines or break the records but his contribution is vital to the team.
A parallel can be drawn with Scholes and United. The likes of Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney were favoured by the sponsors and the PFA, although the man who mattered most, Sir Alex Ferguson will tell you, was Scholes.
Kante’s tenacity on the pitch and eye for a pass reminds me of Paul Scholes between the years 1998 and 2004, when he was a box-to-box midfielder. If Kante can add goals to his game he can be every bit as good as Scholes was back then.
At a time when Leicester are enjoying their greatest run in Premier League history, Kante prefers to play without a fuss, there has been little mention of him in the media this season, perhaps he will only be valued after Leicester’s successful season comes to a grinding halt. It seems, as a footballing nation, England has only come to appreciate Paul Scholes since he has retired.
Therefore City need to take advantage of what they have, all the best teams need their unsung heroes, just look at the demise of the Galaticos after Claude Makelele was sold. He was the player who made Madrid tick, although his commercial clout wasn’t as great as many other potential suitors, therefore Real let him go.
Kante has been so good this season that Leicester fans have forgotten about the absence of another former Galactico, Esteban Cambiasso. The Argentine midfielder was influential in Leicester’s great escape at the end of last season.
It remains to be seen whether N’Golo Kante will be instrumental in Leicester’s title glory this season, although one thing is for sure, his contribution will be sorely under-appreciated.