Former Chelsea star Frank Leboeuf has told RMC that N’Golo Kante is too shy to be “a boss” of the Blues squad.
Kante, 25, underpinned Leicester City’s Premier League title win last season, and has received even more plaudits for his performance in Chelsea’s march to the top of the table this season.
The France international has featured in all but one of Chelsea’s Premier League matches this season, making him one of manager Antonio Conte’s key players, but Leboeuf, who played at Stamford Bridge between 1996 and 2001, said that Kante’s personality means he will never be a dressing-room leader.
“Is he a ‘boss’ at heart? I don’t think so. He’s an extraordinary soldier, a warrior, but he doesn’t have the personality nor the stature of a leader,” Leboeuf, who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France, said.
“At Chelsea, in the middle of the stars, he’s the indispensable man and Conte counts on him, but he never makes him the boss. He doesn’t have the game of a boss. He’s not a Zizou [Zinedine Zidane].
This boy is indispensable to Chelsea, but he’s not the boss, because he doesn’t speak easily, he’s shy, he doesn’t have the stature. Even technically he’s not a leader in the team’s play. He’s a guy who’ll win back 800,000 balls a game.”
Despite his stunning season for Leicester, Kante only played two full games for his country as France finished runners-up at Euro 2016, and watched from the bench as they lost to Portugal in the final.
France coach Didier Deschamps must decide whether he can find a place for Kante in midfield for this week’s 2018 World Cup qualifier with Luxembourg and next week’s friendly against Spain.
Leboeuf said the former Caen man’s renowned niceness may do him a disservice when his selection is weighed against that of more high-profile players, such as Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
“With Kante on the bench, you don’t have a problem. With Pogba on the bench, you perhaps have a problem,” he said. “But Didier does what he wants. There’s only one person who decides. There is a phrase that sums up Kante exactly: ‘Kante is the motor, but not the pilot.’
“He can be the motor of the team without being the leader, because he still doesn’t have the stature and his play doesn’t mean he can be a boss or technical leader.”