N’Golo Kante is confident that Tiemoue Bakayoko can make a big impact at Chelsea to replace the departed Nemanja Matic.
Serbian midfielder Matic was sold to Manchester United for £40 million before Chelsea brought in Bakayoko as his replacement for a similar fee from Monaco over the summer.
Kante and Matic were Antonio Conte’s main partnership last season and the 26-year-old admits that the pair struck up an impressive understanding on the pitch.
However, Kante has backed Bakayoko to ease the blow of losing Matic to a rival, saying after the 6-0 Champions League win over Qarabag: “For sure, for sure Nemanja Matic was a good player for us.
“I know he was in Chelsea for many years, I had the chance to play one year with him and he was a very good player for me.
“We spent a good season together. He left now, he plays for United but Bakayoko has come and I think he’s a good player, and that we can do very well with him. Some players joined the club but it is like that in every club.
“We try to make them feel good quickly and to understand how we play, how we train. I think they did very well. Bakayoko scored his first goal. Zappacosta scored his first goal and it is good for them and good for us. We need everyone this month.”
The PFA crowned Kante as their Player of the Year last season, as he became the most defensive player to win the award since John Terry in 2005.
But the France international insisted that he still doesn’t believe he is the best player in the Premier League, adding: “I think football, when one game passes, we need to forget to keep improving.
"I think last season was amazing for me and the club but this was the past and we need to focus for the future, and this is what we need to do, and I don’t feel like the Player of the Year.
“I don’t really care about it when I play on the pitch, and I just try to do my best always when I’m on the pitch, and try to improve in training, and give my best in the game.”
Kante was substituted in Chelsea’s 6-0 win on Tuesday as manager Conte looks ahead to his side’s London derby on Sunday against Arsenal.
Chelsea lost in the recent Community Shield and last season’s FA Cup final against Arsenal but Kante insists that his side will be ready to take on their rivals.
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“I think we played against them in FA Cup final, in pre-season in the Community Shield and I think they know how we play and also us we know how they play. It’s going to be a good fight, and we need to be ready for Sunday’s game but I think we know each other.
“We need to win, because it’s important for us. I think last season, it was special. I know we won 13 games in a row. Now it’s the beginning, we cannot expect to do the same. We take it game after game and we try to be ready for the next game, Arsenal Sunday and we will give everything to win.”