Paul Pogba has backed N’Golo Kante to win the Ballon d’Or – but said his fellow Frenchman’s recent exploits are nothing new.
Kante was named Player of the Match in Chelsea’s win over Manchester City in the Champions League final, as well as both legs of the semi-final victory over Real Madrid.
With usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo enduring underwhelming seasons, Kante has emerged as a contender for the top individual honour in 2021.
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PSG forward Kylian Mbappe is the bookies’ favourite ahead of Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, with Kante currently in third.
Should Kante impress at Euro 2020, it would only strengthen his case for becoming the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
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“What I would like to say to the whole world is that the ‘NG’ we have seen in recent months has always been the same,” Pogba said in an exclusive interview with Eurosport France’s FC Stream Team podcast.
“We talk a lot about his performances but he has always been as good as ever.
“There was no Cristiano and Messi in the semi-final, so it's good to see the performances of the midfielders or even the defenders.
“I said a long time ago that it would be appropriate, if Chelsea won, for him to win the Ballon d'Or. It would be deserved too.
He's always performed well. NG, I'm not surprised what he's doing, I'm just surprised that he's still doing it. He has always played matches like that.
Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante parade the World Cup
Image credit: Getty Images
'France only a PlayStation team unless we win the Euros'
France might be favourites for Euro 2020, but they must first navigate a tricky group alongside defending champions Portugal, Germany and Hungary.
They arguably have a stronger squad than when they won the World Cup in Russia three years ago, with Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema returning after almost six years in the wilderness, but Pogba says France must deliver with their embarrassment of riches – or risk being known as a “PlayStation team”.
"We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don't win a trophy,” said Pogba.
“We have to live up to expectations and there'll be even more expected with Karim's return. It's nice to see a team sheet like that... It's always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.
“Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.
We must remain humble. I want to give this message: it's not a foregone conclusion. We hear a lot of talk but we keep our feet on the ground.
France finished runners-up to Portugal in 2016, with Didier Deschamps controversially leaving Kante as an unused substitute in the final.
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