Speaking in an interview with Yahoo Sport FR, Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kanté discussed his personal future and looked ahead to the 2019/20 campaign.
Just a bit more than a year ago, France won the World Cup. What does it mean to you today?
We had a magnificent adventure, it will certainly remain an unforgettable souvenir with the trophy and the adventure that we all lived through together. Winning was something magical, especially after the Euros which we lost. That too was a great adventure but we lost in the final, we said to ourselves that it would have been so much better to win. Two years later, to win the World Cup, when I look back on videos, I am immediately smiling. It was an adventure that I will never forget, it was magnificent. Aside from that, in terms of football, you need to move on to other things because competitions begin again, there are other objectives. You have to continue your career hoping for other titles because the World Cup is now behind us. Today, I am focused on the rest of my career.
How did you view the season after the World Cup for the French national team?
The return to France was magnificent and then we had the Nations League matches and, sadly, we messed up the match against the Netherlands and we were not able to qualify for the final four. That remains our regret for that season with Les Bleus. Aside from that, we bounced back well in the Euro qualification matches, I hope that we will qualify very soon and without stress.
Chelsea are back in the Champions’ League this season. That must be a nice source of motivation?
We all know what this competition represents for footballers. I was lucky to play it once with Chelsea, but unfortunately, we were knocked out in the Round of 16 against Barcelona. I hope that we will have the chance to go further this season.
You played in a less defensive role with Chelsea last season, did you enjoy this new position?
This new role came about in our 4-3-3 system. I had been playing in a shape for several years with two midfielders only. All of a sudden, I found myself as a box-to-box midfielder, with one #6 and two #8s. By repeating this in tactical games in training, in matches and with the advice of the coach, I think that I successfully adapted. I like this position, it allows me to join the attacks and to have an attacking role in the team. Aside from that, there is also a little bit more high pressing involved on the pitch which I enjoy. In this position, you sometimes have your back to play and less time on the ball than in the #6 role. You have to make sure you are positioning yourself properly and applying yourself technically. I like this challenge and I like this position.
Changing position is not always easy: were there players who inspired you when taking on this challenge?
When I was young, I liked to watch the Ronaldos, Maradonas, Ronaldinhos on the internet. I liked their skills, their goals, their control of the hall: I really liked to watch these types of players. Today, I am at Chelsea and I watch less football than I did when I was young. But to answer the question, I think of players who I have played with like John Terry or Cesc Fabregas and who always wanted to win. Players like that inspire me, like Pedro too who has won it all and is still here to win titles.
Speaking of Chelsea legends, you signed an extension until 2023 in November, but your name is still being spoken about in the transfer window. Is that annoying… maybe even distracting?
There are quite a lot of things that are said. At the end of the day, I know in principle what is reliable and what is not. I know what discussions are being had around me via my agent. It does not distract me certainly because of what I want to do next. For what is said in the press, I do not pay attention. I have always operated this way: to know, do what I need to do with my club and see what happens next. What they (the media) say, I don’t pay attention.