Leicester City are preparing for life without N’Golo Kante, 25. The Foxes have agreed a £10m fee with Nice for midfielder, Nampalys Mendy, 23, beating Premier League rivals, West Ham United, to his signature.
The French Under-21 international fits the Leicester scouting template: young, relatively unknown on these shores. Steve Walsh, the club’s chief scout, has built an enviable network of talent spotters and they have earmarked Mendy as Kante’s replacement.
Mendy made his debut for Monaco in 2010 two months after his eighteenth birthday and went on to make 80 appearances before signing for Nice in 2013 when he contract expired. Since then, he has become a regular in their first team, with a further 120 appearances to his name.
At the same time, he has progressed through the junior ranks for France, selected at every level from Under-18 to Under-21.
It’s a similar rise to the one Kante enjoyed but of all the Foxes stars who won the Premier League last season, he is the one most likely to leave. Real Madrid have joined a long list of admirers and whilst their attention is focussed on compatriot, Paul Pogba, 23, they have contacted Kante’s representatives to sound out a possible to move to the Bernabeu.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri received some good news over the weekend when Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, appeared to concede defeat in the chase for Jamie Vardy. Speaking during an interview with Chinese television, Wenger stated, “From what I know, [Vardy] is staying at Leicester.”
Whether that was diplomacy on the Frenchman’s part but the confidence displayed by the club’s owners last week, appears not to have been misplaced. With just Riyad Mahrez, 25, to tie down to a long-term deal, Ranieri’s best business this summer may yet be done away from the transfer market.
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