Kante takes centre stage with PFA Player of the Year award

Chelsea's N'Golo Kante (No. 7) vying for the ball with Spurs' Dele Alli. Kante won the PFA Player of the Year gong, while Alli was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year accolade for the second year in a row.
Chelsea's N'Golo Kante (No. 7) vying for the ball with Spurs' Dele Alli. Kante won the PFA Player of the Year gong, while Alli was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year accolade for the second year in a row.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • N'Golo Kante's dynamic performances for double-chasing Chelsea received the ultimate accolade from his peers on Sunday - the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year award.

The 26-year-old French midfielder saw off the likes of Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Everton's marksman Romelu Lukaku for the prestigious award.

It may well not be the last piece of silverware he lifts this season as unlike his former team-mates at Leicester City - for whom he was the driving force of a stunning title success last year - he stands on the brink of becoming the first player to win successive league titles with different clubs.

"To be chosen by the players to be player of the year means a lot to me," said Kante, who also faces an FA Cup final date with Arsenal. "It means the world to be chosen and it's been two beautiful seasons, one with Leicester, and we are in good form with Chelsea. To be player of the year, it's a great honour."

Kante, who had a modest playing career in France with Boulogne and then Caen, said the award will not go to his head as he acknowledges they face a tough battle to win either the league or the Cup - Spurs are just four points behind them in the title race, and Arsenal will be desperate to rescue a poor season with a trophy.

"We're going to fight for both competitions," he said. "The cup is just one game, and the league six games, and we're going to give our best to win these two competitions."

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Kante's performances this season have led to former players eulogising about his ability, especially after he overshadowed the world's most expensive player and compatriot Paul Pogba in the 1-0 win over Manchester United in March.

"I'd go as far to say that he's (Kante) the best central midfield player in the world on current form," former England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told the BBC. "He may not be scoring lots of goals but what he's giving to the team in the way he's playing, the driving force that he is, I cannot see anyone else out there in world football better than him at the moment."

Tottenham Hotspur - who would relish the Premier league title even more after being beaten 4-2 by Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final on Saturday - did not go away empty-handed.

Midfielder Dele Alli, whom many thought should have been a contender for the senior award, won the Young Player of the Year award for the second successive year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2017, with the headline 'Kante takes centre stage with PFA Player of the Year award'. Print Edition | Subscribe