Antonio Rudiger Bids Chelsea Goodbye

Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger (C) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on September 19, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Antonio Rudiger has penned down his final farewell note to the Chelsea faithful ahead of his move to Real Madrid.

The stalwart German defender who signed from Roma in 2017 for a fee of £29 million won the FA Cup in his first season, followed by the UEFA Europa League in his second season, and the UEFA Champions League in 2021.

Discussions between the centre-back’s representatives and Chelsea had taken place in January but, no new, improved official offer was tabled.

Real Madrid emerged favourites to secure Rudiger’s services on a pre-contract agreement – after successful; talks with Rudiger’s representatives.

The 29-year-old on Wednesday confirmed his exit from the club in an open letter to Chelsea fans titled “Dear Chelsea.”

Ngolo Kante AFP

 

“I don’t like goodbyes. But I will try to make this one special, from the heart,” Rudiger opened with.

Rudiger was full of praise for his fellow teammate Ngolo Kante, whom he described as “one of the nicest guys in football.”

“Before I came to Chelsea, I had heard all the beautiful stories about him. They said he is always smiling. They said he still drives an old Mini Cooper. They said he never raises his voice. But you know how it goes in football, right? No one is really like that. There is too much pressure, too much disappointment. We are all human. No one is that cool all the time. It’s impossible.,” he said.

“Then I met N’Golo.”

Rudiger also cited Thomas Tuchel as instrumental in his resurgence at the club also thanking the German for his belief in him.

Chelsea’s German pairing of Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Rudiger (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP

 

“When Tuchel came in as manager and gave me a chance, it was a new life for me. Actually, he did something right away that I think a lot of managers could learn from. It had nothing to do with tactics. He just came up to me and he said, “Toni, tell me about yourself.”

“He wanted to know where my aggression and hunger came from, and I told him about growing up in Berlin-Neukölln and how I used to play so hard on the concrete pitches that all the older kids started calling me Rambo.”

Speaking on his failed contract situation at the club, Rudiger said, “Unfortunately, my contract negotiations had already started to get difficult last fall. Business is business, but the situation becomes complicated when you don’t hear any news from the club from August to January.”

“After the first offer, there was a long gap of just nothing. We’re not robots, you know? You cannot wait for months with so much uncertainty about your future. Obviously, no one saw the sanctions coming, but in the end, other big clubs were showing interest, and I had to make a decision. I will leave it at that, because business aside, I have nothing bad to say about this club. “

“Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. I came here alone, and now I have a wife and two beautiful kids. I also have a new brother for life named Kova. I have an FA Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League medal. And of course, I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.”

N’Golo Kante, The Quiet And Unassuming Superstar

Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante (C) celebrates with Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta afer scoring during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on December 8, 2018. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

He may shy away from the limelight, but there were few more popular members of France’s 2018 World Cup-winning side than N’Golo Kante, who on Saturday will aim to get his hands on one of the few trophies that has so far evaded him when Chelsea face Manchester City in the Champions League final.

France supporters came up with a song for Kante during that triumphant summer in Russia, to the tune of the 1969 hit “Les Champs-Elysees” by Joe Dassin. As the song goes, “he is small, he is kind, he stopped Leo Messi”.

It does take a ruthless streak to get to the very top in football as Kante has, winning two Premier League titles, the Europa League and the FA Cup as well as the World Cup.

Despite that, everyone who has encountered Kante since the start of his career in the Paris suburbs seems to agree there is no other player quite like the 30-year-old.

“Every time he comes back to Paris he comes to see us,” Karim El-Moudkhil, Kante’s former coach, tells AFP.

Idolised

“But he doesn’t just stop by, he stays to eat with us, he agrees to have his photo taken with everyone, to play with the kids.”

Kante, whose parents are of Malian origin, grew up in a large family on a quiet estate in Rueil-Malmaison, to the west of the French capital.

El-Moudkhil has endless anecdotes to tell as well as recent videos of Kante playing football with children in the neigbourhood who, not surprisingly, idolise him.

“In the summer, everyone comes out to play wearing the shirts of the teams he has played for: Caen, Leicester, Chelsea, France,” says the coach.

Kante is widely liked and respected for his warmth and modesty, and as a player he has forged a reputation for being generous and discrete, with his on-pitch persona matching his personality off it.

“He has never become big-headed, he has never changed,” says El-Moudkhil. “His brothers are the same. I would like to know how they have done it.”

Never angry

When you ask his former coach if he can recall Kante getting angry during a game or showing any negative emotions, the question is met with an almost sorry response.

“I am trying to think of something but I honestly can’t remember any. I have never seen him get angry as long as I have known him.

“And yet if anyone could have got angry it was him given the amount of times he used to get kicked while playing at Suresnes.”

It was there, in a pleasant suburb by the Seine River, that Kante played as a youngster.

Unlike most modern-day superstars, Kante was never picked up by the youth academy of a professional club. He had talent, but his size and personality seemed to work against him.

“N’Golo is not somebody who tends to stand out, so at a trial he just wasn’t visible,” Pierre Ville, a director at Suresnes, told AFP in 2018.

His career did gradually take off as he moved to France’s far north to sign for Boulogne-sur-Mer aged 19.

Soon he was playing for their first team in the third division, and he then joined Caen in 2013, helping them win promotion to Ligue 1.

After just one season in the French elite, Kante moved to Leicester aged 24 in 2015 and was one of the stars of their surge to the Premier League title in 2015/16.

He then left for Chelsea where he has continued to star, right up to being the man of the match in both legs of the Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid.

“As soon as he signed for Boulogne-sur-Mer I knew his career was taking off,” says El-Moudkhil.

There, on France’s Channel coast, Kante left behind nothing but good memories.

“What was really striking was his desire to keep progressing. He was like a sponge, absorbing all the advice he got from his coaches,” remembers Christophe Raymond, who coached Kante in the club’s reserve team between 2010 and 2012.

“We sensed he had potential but it would be lying to say we thought he could go as far as he has.”

It is a view shared by his old coach back in Rueil.

“He has come on so much. Over the last few years he has taken more and more risks, he gets forward more, and he is now one of the best players in the world.”

AFP

Kante, Luiz Fire Chelsea To Victory Over Manchester City

N’Golo Kante (C) celebrates with teammate Cesar Azpilicueta after scoring Chelsea’s first goal against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, on December 8, 2018. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

 

Chelsea inflicted champions Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat of the season as goals from N’Golo Kante and David Luiz handed the hosts a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge and sent Liverpool top of the table.

Kante’s goal just before half-time came against the run of play as the visitors dominated the first 45 minutes, but without the injured Sergio Aguero, City lacked a cutting edge up front and Luiz’s header 12 minutes from time sealed a huge win for Chelsea.

Liverpool are now a point clear of City after Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri had lost all of his previous three meetings against City boss Pep Guardiola and was growingly increasingly frustrated at his side’s inability to hold possession as the visitors dominated the first half.

Raheem Sterling should have scored when his weak left-footed finish was placed too close to Kepa Arrizabalaga before the world’s most expensive goalkeeper also denied Leroy Sane from a narrow angle.

Only a brave block by captain Cesar Azpilicueta rescued Chelsea when City next threatened as Sterling eased past Marcos Alonso and Sane’s fierce effort was deflected over by the Spanish defender.

Yet, for all City’s possession, the visitors were stung by a sucker punch just before half-time as Sarri’s decision to field Eden Hazard as the focal point of the Chelsea attack and maintain Kante in an advanced midfield role paid off.

Sarri has resisted calls to return Kante to the deep-lying midfield role where he shone in winning the World Cup with France and Premier League titles for Leicester and Chelsea at the expense of Jorginho.

Hazard was finally fed the ball to feet inside the City box and his pass picked out Kante, who side-footed the ball high past Ederson.

The Brazilian goalkeeper had been a spectator before picking the ball out his net but was called into action again to keep his side in the game just after the break when he palmed away Willian’s free-kick.

Willian wasted another good chance on the counter-attack as having been behind only once before in the Premier League this season, City were rattled and rarely threatened to get back in the game in the second period.

Guardiola’s men may also have to cope without David Silva for some of the festive season after the Spaniard hobbled off holding his hamstring.

Defending set-pieces has often been a rare Achilles heel for City and it was exposed when Luiz made the game safe by rising highest to Hazard’s corner and looping a header in off the underside of the bar.

AFP

Kante’s Collapse During Training Shocks Chelsea Teammates

Source:www.chelseafc.com

 

N’Golo Kante did not feature in Chelsea’s match against Premier League leaders Manchester City at the weekend after fainting at the club’s training ground, reports said on Tuesday.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said shocked team-mates feared the France international had suffered a heart problem when he briefly passed out after training on Friday.

It said a Chelsea doctor was on the scene within seconds of Kante slumping to one side in the dressing room at the club’s Cobham training ground southwest of London.

The 26-year-old was given the all-clear after cardiology tests, the report said, and Kante travelled with the squad to Manchester for Sunday’s match. He was cleared to play but felt unwell on Sunday morning.

The midfielder was back in training on Monday and is expected to be available for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace.

Kante’s health scare came two days before Fiorentina captain and Italy international Davide Astori, 31, was found dead in his hotel room in Udine.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who coached Astori when he was in charge of the Italian national team, said the player’s death was a “tragedy”.

Kante, who has played 38 matches for club and country this season, won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2015-16 and repeated the feat under Conte after joining the London club.

He won the Football Writers’ Association and Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year awards last season.

AFP

Chelsea’s Title Win ‘A Huge Achievement’, Says Kante

Premier League champions Chelsea title win was a “huge achievement”, said midfielder N’Golo Kante after picking up the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Player of the Year award in London on Thursday (May 18).

Chelsea sealed the title with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion last Friday (May 12) and can add to their Premier League glory when they play the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 27.

Kante was signed by Chelsea at the beginning of the season after the Frenchman had played a starring role in Leicester City’s remarkable title success last season, when Chelsea, the previous season’s champions, had only finished tenth, missing out on European competition this season.

Chelsea’s only Champions League win came in the 2011-12 season, and next season will be the 26-year-old’s first time in the Champions League.

Kante was full of praise for the club’s manager Antonio Conte, who joined the club at the start of the season after coaching Italy’s national team at the Euro 2016 championships to the quarter-finals.

“I think he’s a fantastic manager. He was doing very well when he was in Italy, and to come here and win the league is good for him, good for the club, good for us. The way he works in training, his tactical work he learnt to everyone, he’s a very, very good manager,” said Kante.

Chelsea Beat Man. United At Stamford Bridge

Courtesy: http://www.manutd.com
Courtesy: http://www.manutd.com

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, got the better part of Jose Mourinho for the second time this season, as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1- 0 at Stamford Bridge to qualify in the FA Cup semi-finals on Monday.

N’Golo Kante’s 51st minutes goal was enough for Conte’s double chasing side to break United’s resistance after the visitors had Ander Herrera sent off after 35 minutes for a second yellow card.

Mourinho’s frustration boiled over and both managers had to be separated after an angry exchange shortly after Herrera’s send off.

United, were missing the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic and injured Wayne Rooney and offered little threat once Kante had beaten David de Gea with a precise low shot.

Chelsea could have won by more, although United did have their moments and came close to an equaliser in the second half, when Marcus Rashford was foiled by keeper Thibaut Courtois.

The Blues would now face Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals at Wembley.