Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante insists he is happy to listen to any advice his compatriot Claude Makelele has to offer.
Kante has been a revelation since arriving in England in 2015, becoming the first player to win back-to-back titles with different clubs after following up his triumph with Leicester at Chelsea last season.
The 26-year-old was named the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year after flourishing under Antonio Conte for the Premier League champions.
But speaking earlier in the year, former Chelsea and France star Makelele said Kante needs to become more of a leader to be regarded as an ‘exceptional player’.
‘What I like about him is that he’s very generous,’ Makelele, who spent five years at Chelsea and earned 71 France caps, told SFR Sport.
‘He plays with a smile on his face, and that’s an exceptional quality. I really hope he has a better career than mine, but he still needs that leadership.
‘That doesn’t mean be a captain, but to have an aura within the team that when they look at him, they think “We’re going to win” or when he speaks to them, they go “You’re right”.
‘When he has that aura, he’ll be an exceptional player. That’s when he’ll become a regular for France.’
While it may seem harsh to suggest Kante lacks any attributes following his remarkable success in the Premier League, the player himself says he is grateful for any advice from figures such as Makelele.
Asked about Makelele’s comments, Kante told the Premier League: ‘I think it’s good to listen to the advice of this type of player like Makelele, I need to listen and try to give my best. ‘But I cannot say I want to do what everyone wants me to do, but it’s good to listen to the advice of players like him and to the staff and manager at Chelsea.
‘I want to improve and I’m doing my best to improve so I listen and try to do it. If I do it, okay, but [I try] not to put too much pressure on it.’ Chelsea bounced back from their opening-day defeat against Burnley with an impressive victory over Tottenham last weekend.
One of the bright sparks for the Blues at Wembley was new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko, who provided an encouraging performance despite only recently recovering from a knee injury.
Kante insisted Bakayoko ‘did a great job’ for the team and hopes the former Monaco star can continue to progress at his new club.
‘It was his first game after a long injury – he did a great job, played for the team and he did well,’ Kante said. ‘Hopefully he can keep going this way.
‘He needs to understand how we work here, how we want to play, I think he’s going to be a very good player for Chelsea.’
Chelsea welcome Ronald Koeman’s Everton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday and Kante acknowledges the Toffees will provide a stern test.
‘Their team changed a little bit [over the summer], they are a good team and did well last season. It’s going to be a difficult game and we need to be ready for it,’ he added.
More Breaking News:
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is heading to the exit door with Arsenal ready to start a £35m auction.
Mirror Sport revealed yesterday that Arsenal have made a final contract offer worth £180,000-a-week but Oxlade-Chamberlain has turned it down and insisted he wants to leave.
That may tempt Arsene Wenger to take Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the firing line for Sunday’s trip to Liverpool because of the ongoing situation.
Wenger has insisted publicly that he does not want to sell but Oxlade-Chamberlain has told him face-to-face that he believes a move would be best for his career and development.
It now looks as if Oxlade-Chamberlain will now be sold rather than let him run down his contract, although Arsenal have yet to receive a bid from Chelsea. Liverpool are watching developments but Chelsea are in pole position.
Wenger is considering playing Sead Kolasinac at wing back on Sunday, especially with fit-again Alexis Sanchez set to return to the starting line-up on the left. That would be a convenient excuse while the club try and resolve the issue.
They have also yet to receive a formal bid for Sanchez from Manchester City and yet it would take a huge offer to tempt them to sell in the final week of the window.
Watford have finally come in for Kieran Gibbs but have yet to table a formal bid let alone agree a fee but a deal could happen. The only club to have made a bid so far was West Brom.
Gibbs has a year left on his contract, Arsenal are willing to sell for around £10m and, contrary to some reports, his wages will not be a sticking point as he is nowhere near being one of the top earners at the Emirates.
But the issue may be whether Gibbs goes now or leaves on a free transfer next summer as he knows there may be game time with Shkodran Mustafi a potential surprise departure.
Mirror Sport understands that Arsenal will sell if they can get their money back on Mustafi after signing him for £34m from Valencia last summer.
Inter Milan and Juventus have expressed an interest. Inter want to do a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal next summer.
Despite potentially clearing the decks, it is unlikely that Arsenal will have any more incomings. They are long time admirers of Vigil van Dijk but Southampton are refusing to sell.