N’Golo Kante, France – faces Romania, Albania and Switzerland in Group A
HITC Sport writers have compiled a list of the top 50 stars at Euro 2016, assessing players from across the 24 countries taking part at this summer's tournament.
Coming in at number 37 is Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante, who’ll be looking to build on a sensational first season in England by helping host nation France live up to the hopes of an expectant public.
International record: 2 caps, 1 goal since 2016
2015-16: Signed from Ligue 1 side Caen last August for a reported £5.6 million fee,Kante’s debut campaign with Leicester saw him go from a relative unknown to a Premier League superstar.
He may not have contributed much in the final third, but the 25-year-old’s tireless running and steely determination epitomised the spirit of a side that stunned the sporting world by romping home to their first-ever top-flight title against 5,000-1 odds.
His importance to the club’s shock success was reflected in the defensive statistics, too. Over 37 appearances, Kante made 31 tackles more than any other player in the league with 175, while also recording a division-leading 156 interceptions.
As well as being named on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and making PFA the Team of the Year, the diminutive midfielder’s standout displays earned him his first two senior international caps in March and there are now rumours that he could be set for a big-money move this summer.
The tough-tackling Parisian’s contract reportedly contains a £20 million buy-out clause, and if the like of the Mirror are to be believed, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could be looking to take advantage as he seeks to strengthen his side’s spine.
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What can we expect?
While Kante would be a certain starter for most national teams, France’s plethora of midfield options means he is no guarantee to be in Didier Deschamps’ first-choice line-up come the start of the Euros.
The Foxes star is currently competing with players such as Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko and Lassana Diarra for a spot in the side, which goes some length towards highlighting why so many people have Les Bleus down as favourites for the tournament.
Should he go on to play in integral role in helping the hosts lift the trophy, it would certainly complete a remarkable 12-month rise for the Premier League winner.