Soccer

N’Golo Kante to join Saudi club Al-Ittihad when Chelsea contract expires

N’Golo Kante will leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of June (John Walton/PA)
N’Golo Kante will leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of June (John Walton/PA) N’Golo Kante will leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of June (John Walton/PA)

N’Golo Kante will join Saudi club Al-Ittihad when his Chelsea contract expires at the end of June, the club has confirmed.

The 32-year-old midfielder joined from Leicester in 2016 and has won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.

He had been an integral part of the Foxes’ surprise title success under Claudio Ranieri after arriving in England from Caen in 2015, just two years after having played in the French fourth tier.

Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley told the club website: “N’Golo’s impact and influence during his time at Chelsea cannot be overstated. His tireless performances in midfield contributed to several trophy wins and has guaranteed him a place in the club’s history.

“We wish him well as he embarks on the next chapter in his career.”

His final season at the club was blighted by injury. He required hamstring surgery in October and was unavailable to former manager Graham Potter until March, in all making only seven Premier League appearances across the campaign.

N'Golo Kante
N'Golo Kante N’Golo Kante endured a final season at Chelsea disrupted by injury (Adam Davy/PA)

He becomes the first major departure since Mauricio Pochettino was confirmed as the club’s new manager, with a reduction in size of a bloated first-team squad amongst the Argentinean’s priorities.

Kante, who won the World Cup with France in Russia in 2018, becomes the latest in a succession of high-profile names to move to the Saudi Professional League.

His international team-mate Karim Benzema has already agreed to join Al-Ittihad after 14 seasons at Real Madrid, following Cristiano Ronaldo who moved to Al Nassr from Manchester United in December.

Wolves captain Ruben Neves has reportedly agreed a £47million move to Al Hilal with an announcement expected from the club this week.

At 26 he will be the youngest big name to leave a European club for Saudi Arabia.

Chelsea outcasts Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also been linked with moves to the Gulf state.