Chelsea and Manchester United had poor campaigns last term by their standards; Manchester United missed out on Champions League football while Chelsea ended up in faraway 10th position. It was an awkward position for both clubs and changes had to be made.
Both clubs made managerial changes before the new season started; former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was snapped up by Manchester United, and ironically Antonio Conte was signed by Chelsea to clear up the mess the Portuguese caused.
Both managers and clubs had a huge job to do to restore their teams back to their glorious heights, and changes were made in the playing personnel. Mourinho finally got his wish as he was able to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus, albeit for a record fee of £89 million, while Chelsea signed French midfielder N’Golo Kante from defending champions Leicester City for a modest fee of around £32 million.
We all know Kante’s grass to grace story and the effect he had in Leicester’s once in a lifetime title-winning season. While Riyad Mahrez and Vardy were given the credits, Kante was the engine room of everything that happened. I was extremely excited with the signing of the midfield powerhouse, but even I misunderstood how powerful Kante truly was, because I got carried away by United’s £89 million signing of Pogba, yet another Frenchman.
When Mourinho finally procured the ‘player of his dreams’, I got jealous seeing all the frenzy happening in the Manchester clubs as regard player signings, knowing that Chelsea had only signed Kante, Michy Batshuayi and Marcos Alonso, before the deadline signing of David Luiz. Chelsea transfer targets lacked the spark that’ll lift the fans up and give the team hope after abysmal season, while United broke the transfer record for a player – I must admit that I felt jealous and had little hopes for the new campaign, but support my team, I must – come what may. Which brings me to the topic Kante vs Pogba.
Chelsea will host Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Monday night, and the two Frenchman who are the midfield powerhouses in their team will go head to head – our £32 million signing and United’s £89 million – with the sum used to acquire our records signing Fernando Torres separating them.
The debate has been, who made the better deal – Chelsea or Manchester United? To answer that question from a footballing point of view, there’s by far only one winner – Kante. Kante’s work rate, energy, tackling ability, interception and ability to cover space has made Chelsea’s midfield thick – the same midfield that was woeful last season, while United are still being mocked for the signing of Pogba. The irony of it all is that football fans have joked that Chelsea should pay more money to the Foxes for the cheap transfer of Kante while United have been mocked to have signed the wrong Pogba.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has managed the two players, and was modest in his assessment in a recent interview when he said: “It’s very difficult to try to compare Paul with N’Golo.
“Two players with different characteristics. Two great players, but different.”
Even Pogba will acknowledge that Kante has been class apart, and the point gap between Chelsea and Manchester United is enough proof.
Till we meet at Stamford Bridge 19:45 GMT on Monday night.