Former Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri revealed he had the choice of signing either N’Golo Kante or Jordy Clasie before the start of the Foxes’ title-winning season.
Ranieri and Leicester, with the help of assistant manager Steve Walsh, went for Kante, who is favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award with Chelsea, while Clasie eventually signed for Southampton from Feyenoord.
The Italian told Sky Sports News: “We were looking at another international player to put there. We lost Cambiasso, who was the main man in the middle. He arranged everything and was an experienced player, who calmed the dressing room.
“I tried to keep Cambiasso here, but he said no, he wanted to go away. We wanted an international player, but this player didn’t choose Leicester, he chose another country and another club, a big club. So in the end we had Kante and Clasie. [Assistant manager] Steve Walsh told me these two names.
“I watched Kante two or three times, and said Kante. At the start I put him on the left wing! Slowly I started with him there, but after I put him the middle. How can I not put him in the team?”
Ranieri moved for Kante, and the rest is history, with Kante inspirational in Leicester’s 2015-16 miracle and closing in on a repeat trick with Chelsea this season.
And the 65-year-old clearly remains a fan, despite losing him to Antonio Conte’s champions elect last summer.
‘For us he was best midfielder in the world’, he insisted.
This man is a very serious man. He is born for football, born to be serious. If you give him something, he makes the maximum. Always laughing, never says nothing.’