Leicester City have made a £8million bid and agreed personal terms to sign a replacement for N’Golo Kante according to reports on Tuesday.
Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Kante have been linked with moves away from Leicester in recent weeks, but Kante appears the most likely to move at this stage. Leicester are well aware and have been looking for replacements in recent weeks, with Nice midfielder Nampalys Mendy now the main target say the Mail.
The reports are being covered by numerous outlets with the Leicester Mercury now reporting that personal terms have been agreed for Mendy and now a fee needs to be agreed with Nice, who finished in an impressive 4th place in Ligue 1 last season. Considering the number and quality of sources reporting this story, we think Leicester’s interest in Mendy is certainly genuine.
Arsenal and Chelsea have been strongly linked with signing Kante, although the Gunners purchase of Granit Xhaka and Chelsea’s interest in Radja Nainggolan has cast doubt over whether their interest in Kante is serious or not. A club that have expressed a serious interest in Kante is Paris-Saint Germain.
Claudio Ranieri appears to have accepted that his midfielder workhorse will be leaving the club this summer and is turning his attention to possible replacements. In Mendy they are targetting a deep-lying playmaker that has been a transfer target for Arsenal and Manchester United previously. Their alleged bid of £8million will fall just short of Nice’s £12million valuation, although there is pressure from the player to push a move through, something which may force Nice to lower their valuation.
Kante has a £20million release clause that a number of clubs are willing to pay. Whilst Leicester won’t want to lose Kante, Mendy is a cost-effective replacement.
The Nice midfielder is quite different in style to Kante though, he’s less energetic and more of a playmaker. Mendy boasts an impressive 92% pass accuracy, much higher than Kante’s 82%. It is in areas such as interceptions, tackles and aerial duels won where Kante really excels ahead of Mendy though. For example the Leicester man made 4.64 interceptions per 90 minutes last season compared to Mendy who managed just 2.18. There’s a similar pattern when looking at tackles won, Kante 3.72 and Mendy just 1.33. Mendy plays from a more reserved position on the pitch and this is why he can complete such a high percentage of his passes, he is a dictator, an orchestrator, whereas Kante is a hustler who likes to get about the pitch and covers a lot more ground.
Mendy is clearly not a like-for-like replacement for Kante, though he does clearly have quality, his best attributes lie in different areas. Mendy is also two years younger than Kante leaving him with room to grow and improve. It could be said that considering the dinstinct differences between the two players that Mendy may not be a replacement for Kante at all, but perhaps a player to play alongside or compete with for a central midfield position as Leicester look to bulk out their squad ahead of their Champions League adventure next season.