Claudio Ranieri reveals how Leicester may not have signed N'Golo Kante
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 10/04/17 8:43pm
Claudio Ranieri has revealed Leicester could easily not have signed N'Golo Kante as they had another target in mind.
Kante, who signed for Leicester from Caen in the summer of 2015 before helping the Foxes to an unprecedented Premier League title, signed for Chelsea last summer and is working similar wonders for the Blues.
But Ranieri, speaking on Monday Night Football, says that after Esteban Cambiasso left the club for Olympiakos and another unnamed international player rejected Leicester, they were left with a choice between Kante and Jordy Clasie.
Ranieri and Leicester, with the help of assistant manager Steve Walsh, went for Kante, who is favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award with Chelsea, while Clasie eventually signed for Southampton from Feyenoord.
Ranieri said: "We were looking at another international player to put there. We lost Cambiasso, who was the main man in the middle. He arranged everything and was an experienced player, who calmed the dressing room.
"I tried to keep Esteban Cambiasso here, but he said no, he wanted to go away.
"We wanted an international player, but this player didn't choose Leicester, he chose another country and another club, a big club.
"So in the end we had Kante and Clasie. Steve Walsh told me these two names.
"I watched Kante two or three times, and said Kante. At the start I put him on the left wing! Slowly I started with him there, but after I put him the middle. How can I not put him in the team?"
Kante was the only key Leicester player to leave in the summer after the title-winning season, moving to Chelsea for £32m.
Ranieri revealed to Jamie Carragher and Dave Jones on Monday Night Football that he did not want to sell the Frenchman, and also insists the 26-year-old is "born for football".
He added: "I didn't want to sell him. The same way I didn't want to sell Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy, because I believe these players were the heart of the team.
"I said to them, we start to make a fairy tale and we can continue, because I believe this team can do something good in the Champions League.
"This man is a very serious man. He is born for football, born to be serious. If you give him something, he made it the maximum.
"If he spoke behind me, I didn't know it was him, because never did I recognise his voice!"