Cesar Azpilicueta has hailed N’Golo Kante as a potential Chelsea star following the midfielder’s impressive debut against West Ham on Monday night.
Kante, who joined Chelsea from Leicester for £32million this summer, was in fine form to help secure a 2-1 win in Antonio Conte’s first Premier League game in charge at Stamford Bridge.
The France international was an integral part of Leicester’s title-winning team last season, and full-back Azpilicueta thinks that the 25-year-old – who was booked after just three minutes against the Hammers – will be an important player in shaping Conte’s tactical plans.
“N’Golo is a big help to the whole team, he covers a lot of space and makes really good interceptions,” Azpilicueta told the club’s official website. “He’s clever with the ball and makes good passes so I think he will be a key player for us.
“The first step was to get the three points last night, we fought really hard and now we must focus on Watford [on Saturday].”
Monday’s game was not without controversy, as Diego Costa avoided picking up a second booking for a foul on Adrian before going on to score the 89th-minute winner.
Conte said after the match that Costa is a ‘professional’ and deserved to stay on the field, while Hammers boss Slaven Bilic said the striker would have been sent off ‘nine times out of 10.’
Despite West Ham’s initial anger, Azpiliceuta believes that Chelsea’s victory was fully justified by their performance.
“We deserved to win, we didn’t deserve to concede the goal and to get the spirit and confidence back from the equaliser was a tough point but the team reacted very well,” he added.
“Our target was to start the second half strongly because in the first half we played well but we couldn’t get the goal everyone was looking for.
“Our main target was to control the game, to press and recover the ball as quickly as possible.
“I felt we played well with the ball; we had a lot of possession and created a lot of chances. We recovered the ball really high and that was a key point which we did really well.”