Football: Kante set to join Conte

N'Golo Kante lifting the trophy with his Leicester City team-mates as they celebrate winning the English Premier League last season.
N'Golo Kante lifting the trophy with his Leicester City team-mates as they celebrate winning the English Premier League last season.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Frenchman on brink of move to the Bridge as a key part of Chelsea boss' rebuilding plans

LONDON • Chelsea are poised to sign N'Golo Kante after agreeing a deal with Leicester City which, with add-ons, could be worth around £29.2 million (S$52.3 million).

The Frenchman has informed Leicester that he wants to move to Stamford Bridge after the English Premier League champions' manager Claudio Ranieri said it was up to the midfielder to choose.

A few details need to be finalised before the transfer is announced, but Chelsea's manager, Antonio Conte, has been in touch with the France international to welcome him.

Leicester are making a significant profit on Kante, whom they signed from French club Caen a year ago for around £5.5 million.

He will be the first crucial member of their title-winning squad to depart, with Jamie Vardy having chosen to reject a move to London club Arsenal.

The 25-year-old is Conte's second signing for Chelsea, following striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille.

LOADING THE AMMUNITION

And in the coming days, we can buy one, two, three - I don't know - more players. Players who can reinforce us for the season as it will be very tough.

ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, saying that he still needs more players to rebuild the club.

The Italian manager has indicated that he wants up to two more players.

Ranieri said on Thursday: "We offered Kante a new deal before he went to the Euros. Now I know there are a lot of big teams interested. It's in his hands."

Kante, who is expected to sign a five-year contract, has been earmarked to provide much-needed solidity and energy to Chelsea's midfield and is seen as a key part of Conte's rebuilding programme.

The London side, under Jose Mourinho and later interim manager Guus Hiddink, suffered problems in the middle of the park last season, with Nemanja Matic particularly struggling for form.

Matic is now likely to be sold to Juventus, with the Italian club making an inquiry for the Serbia midfielder on Wednesday.

During his unveiling on Thursday, Conte confirmed that he is hoping to make new signings as quickly as possible by saying: "We know this club - the team - need to reinforce.

"I am sure that, in the coming days, we can reinforce the team to go closer to the others who seem to be higher in the table compared to Chelsea.

"Leicester City must give us a great example. You can have the best talent, the best champion (players), but you must also have a good spirit in your team, a team with good organisation and good players.

"If you have all of those things, you can win. You can reach your target. I am sure about this.

"And in the coming days, we can buy one, two, three - I don't know - more players. Players who can reinforce us for the season as it will be very tough."

The Italian manager is also eyeing Napoli central defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but Everton are also interested in the Senegalese player and see the 25-year-old as a replacement for John Stones.

Chelsea made four unsuccessful bids for Stones last year. The England defender is now keen to move to Manchester City, but Everton are holding out for a £50 million fee for the 22-year-old.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Kante set to join Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe