Barely a month has gone by since Leicester City defied all expectations to win the Premier League, but already they seem to be faced with a massive struggle to hold onto their best players. The fear might be that if one goes, several more might look to jump ship too with N’Golo Kanté certainly high on the wish-lists of many clubs in Europe.
Foxes fans and most neutrals would like to see this team, that has proved you need more than money to be successful, stick together for at least another season in which they will pit their wits against Europe’s elite clubs in the Champions League.
Certainly there has been an immense collective spirit in the Leicester dressing room this year and if they can hold on to the core of the side that brought them the title, there is no reason why they can’t recreate that atmosphere again next season.
There is plenty of quality in the side with midfield maestro N’Golo Kanté a key figure in it and they should at the very least be competitive in the Champions League next term and if there are no major departures, Leicester should again be a force in the Premier League although clearly defending their title will be an enormously difficult thing to do.
However for the likes of Jamie Vardy, who is mulling over a move to Arsenal, Riyad Mahrez and Kante, there is still plenty of temptation to move on this summer and no shortage of interest.
N’Golo Kanté has enjoyed a whirlwind rise to the top of the game. Only two seasons ago he was playing in the French Second Division with Caen yet he heads into Euro 2016 as suddenly a key member of the French national squad having only made his international debut in March and also as a Premier League champion.
His dramatic rise means so far he has made relatively little money from the game and there are numerous clubs that would have no problem trebling his current wages with a long-term contract offer or matching his release clause fee of a reported €25 million.
Kante is not someone who has already made millions so any sort of long-term offer that would guarantee the financial freedom of him and his family would surely be tough for him to turn down.
Burgeoning reputation and Champions League participation
Of course, that offer could come from Leicester City and there has been no suggestion that Kante is actively pursuing a move away from the English champions.
There is certainly plenty of reason for him to stay put given what the Foxes have achieved this year and how his profile and reputation has exploded to new heights during his year at the club.
Certainly when he joined Leicester last summer, he was not even close to the French national set-up and he may look to repay the faith the Foxes have put in him by committing his immediate future at least to a club that will give him the chance to showcase his talents in the Champions League next season, something that Chelsea, who have been linked with the midfielder, can’t offer.
Future dependent on the future of others
However, at the back of his mind surely will be the niggling feeling that Leicester might have been a one-season wonder and that in the long term he’d be better off at a club like PSG or one of the English clubs like Arsenal or Manchester City that consistently compete at the top end of the Premier League.
His future could ultimately hinge on what happens with Leicester’s other star players. If Kante was to see at least one of Vardy or Mahrez leave the club, then he might be wise to conclude that Leicester are going to find it very difficult to get back to the level they reached last term and that his future is best served elsewhere.
However if the pair stick around, then surely Kante would be tempted to stay put too and find out the true potential of this Leicester side.
Age is on his side
He is after all only 25 and unlike Jamie Vardy, who turns 30 next season, Kante will get more opportunities to sign for one of the giants of the European game providing he can maintain the form he has displayed over the past 12 months.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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