N’Golo Kante has been named the the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year 2016-17.
The Chelsea midfielder, who was born in France to Malian parents, beat Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez to the award.
Described as the Premier League’s “complete midfielder”, Kante played an integral role in Leicester City’s surprise Premier League title win last year, and in his absence this year, Leicester have struggled to replicate their previous season’s form.
Now at Chelsea, Kante has been fundamental in helping lift Chelsea from a mid-table finish to the top of the league, and if Chelsea hold top spot, Kante will become the first player to achieve the distinction of winning successive titles with different clubs.
Kante has played every minute in the league this season apart from a game against Bournemouth, when he was suspended, and the final 11 minutes against Tottenham on January 4.
Upon receiving the award Kante said: “It’s a huge honour to be chosen by the other players. It’s the biggest honour to get this award.”
Ex-Liverpool star Danny Murphy described Kante as irreplaceable in the Chelsea line-up.
“He’s the one you can’t replace. If Eden Hazard wasn’t there, you could put Willian in. Kante is the best midfielder in the Premier League, if not Europe.”
Matthew Upson, former England defender, also stated: “It’s 100% deserved. He is the most valuable player in the Premier League with his contribution.
“He might not be the most creative player, or have the biggest sudden impact, but over the course of the season he is the most valuable player in the Premier League. He’s been outstanding.”
Speaking earlier this season, ex-football star Phil Neville described Kante as “the one who has knitted this Chelsea team together”.
Tottenham’s Dele Alli won the young player prize for the second successive year. Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze won the Women’s Player of the Year award.
Birmingham’s Jess Carter was named Women’s Young Player of the Year.