Football statistics experts WhoScored assess what could be a incredible signing by Liverpool, should they sneak in and snap up N’Golo Kante from Leicester City. Read on to see how the French sensation could fit in to Jurgen Klopp’s plans and check out WhoScored’s Liverpool stats page, here.
It’s seemingly easier to identify a team who haven’t been linked with a move for N’Golo Kante this summer given the raft of interest in the France international. A dominant debut season in England’s top tier has seen a majority of the clubs sit up and take notice of the tough tackling 25-year-old. While Leicester are understandably keen to retain the services of their star midfielder, they could be powerless to resist the temptation to sell if a big money bid for one of their prized assets lands on Claudio Ranieri’s desk.
The latest team to be linked with a move for the player is Liverpool, who are looking to strengthen their midfield this summer. Kante’s WhoScored.com rating last season (7.61) ranked among the top 10 Premier League players, further reinforcing the high level of interest in the midfielder. Given the high pressing approach implemented by manager Jurgen Klopp, Kante seems the ideal acquisition for the Reds.
The Leicester star made more tackles (175) and interceptions (156) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues last season. He ranked third for possession won in the midfield third (162) in England’s top tier last term. As far as perfectly suited midfielders in a Klopp system go, they don’t get much better than Kante. The one concern, however, would be whether he could transition from a team that sits back to hit teams on the counter to one that looks to dominate proceedings.
In his final season in France, only Guingamp (44.1%) averaged less possession than former side Caen (44.7%) in Ligue 1, while Leicester averaged the third least possession (44.8%) in their title winning campaign. For teams that won’t see much of the ball, Kante is the ideal ball winner to help regain possession in the middle of the attack to spring swift counter attacks. For Leicester last season, who could call on Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, this tact worked to perfection.
Liverpool, though, averaged a strong 55% possession in the Premier League, the fifth highest last term. Any qualms over whether Kante would struggle in a team routinely on the front foot, though, went some way to being quashed on Friday night, with the midfielder playing a starring role in France’s 2-1 win. The Euro 2016 hosts averaged 59% possession in the victory, with Les Bleus dominant from the outset, despite the scoreline.
In Paris, Kante had more touches (101) and attempted more passes (86) than any other player on the pitch and had the best pass success rate (91.9%). As capable as playing in a team that dominates matches as he is a side that is set up to defend deep, Kante is the ideal defensive midfielder for any team. For Liverpool, he’d likely play alongside Emre Can in the middle of the park, with Kante’s seemingly limitless energetic displays freeing up the German to maximise his distribution qualities.
No matter who he signs for, however, Kante would make for an astute acquisition. Liverpool aren’t the only side reportedly in the running to sign the France international this summer and if they do firm up their interest, competition for his signature will be high. However, if the Reds can convince Kante to move to Anfield, Liverpool’s squad will be all the stronger in their pursuit of a return to the Champions League.