FT Dream Team Series: Idrissa Gueye or N’golo Kante, who would you pick?
It’s about time we break ground with those conversations. Yes, those ones we have with our friends about who’s best. Today, we are not on about the GOAT debate. We compare two players who play in the same position and have the same influence in their respective teams. One has won the FIFA World Cup, and the English Premier League twice already yet the other is settled in a mid-table team battling it out for a European spot. The debate is between a French midfielder and Africa’s crown jewel. Kante vs Idrissa Gana Gueye of Senegal. Here’s, my rationale before making a pick.
More often than not, the best players have been considered to be the ones playing in the biggest of teams. Think of Ronaldinho and Messi at Barcelona, Ronaldo at Madrid only to mention but a few. Backed up by numbers, it’s easier to tell a story that they are the best above the rest. Therefore, it becomes a mountain climb if you try to make a claim for a player in a lesser team. However, one can argue to say that Kante plays with better players at Chelsea who bring out the best in him. With Jorginho, Fabregas, Kovacic, or Barkley next to him, it’s easier for the well-renowned midfield general to make an impact in the game. This gives an edge to Kante over Gana Gueye who plays with Schneiderlin, Davies and Gomes who are still yet to reach the level of the above mentioned players at Chelsea as well as maintaining that form. This will not be overlooked in my final judgement.
In addition, such debates have been accompanied by the number of accolades won by an individual. Take the Ballon d’Or award for example, it is awarded to a player who was outstanding in terms of individual contribution as well as claiming a collective trophy with their club. This requires having a great manager, dressing room atmosphere as well as playing with the best players on the pitch. As a result, it is no surprise that Kante lifted the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia trophy with a star-studded French team. To give you context, the fourth most expensive player in the world, Ousmane Dembele, could not make it into the first eleven of that French team. They had so much depth to choose from. At club level, Kante won the English Premier League with Leicester City and Chelsea. Gueye on the other hand, has not won anything with his club, Everton which would eliminate him from making it to the FIFA Best shortlist. This is an unfair criteria used by the authorities as it overlooks an individual’s outstanding contribution. Because of that, trophies will not be at the heart of my decision.
Take away the above, Kante is a regular midfielder with the same abilities as Gana Gueye. Let’s take a look at their current stats. You might be surprised to find out that Gueye is averaging 6 tackles per game and 2.7 interceptions as compared to Kante’s 1.9 and 0.9. The African star is shining in his position but such performances by African players usually go unnoticed. Does Gueye have to join a club of Madrid’s stature for the fans to award him the respect that he deserves for his mastery of ball recovery in the middle of the park
If I were to choose my pick between the two, Kante would not be my first choice considering his current form. He looks lost in the new look Chelsea midfield next to Jorginho and Barkley. He has been far from his best and has been living of his form from the World Cup. Gana Gueye has been doing bits and I reckon would be much better if he is handed the opportunity to play for a bigger club in England.
Who would you pick?