Chelsea's N'Golo Kante: 'I don't feel like the player of the year'
LONDON -- N'Golo Kante insists he does not feel like the best player in the Premier League, despite earning glowing praise from head coach Antonio Conte as a result of his performances for Chelsea this season.
Speaking after Kante scored the winning goal in Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Leicester City on Saturday, Conte said the France international had become a "top player" and was justifying the decisions of both the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association to name him the best player in the Premier League in 2016-17.
But when Conte's comments were put to him following Chelsea's 6-0 Champions League demolition of Qarabag on Tuesday, Kante was reluctant to dwell on last season's individual achievements.
"I think football, when one game passes, we need to forget to keep improving," he said. "I think last season was amazing for me and the club but this was the past and we need to focus for the future.
"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. 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 has been integral to Chelsea's swift recovery from last month's shock home defeat against Burnley on the opening day of the Premier League.
The Blues have put together four successive wins in all competitions since that loss and now lie just one point off the top of the table, but the Frenchman insists his team remain some way from the record-equalling momentum that propelled them to glory last season.
"I think last season, it was special," Kante added. "We won 13 games in a row [in the Premier League]. Now it's the beginning [of the season], we cannot expect to do the same. We take it game after game and we try to be ready for the next game. We play Arsenal on Sunday and we will give everything to win."
Arsenal have beaten Chelsea in each of the last two meetings between the teams -- winning 2-1 in the FA Cup final in May, then triumphing on penalties in last month's Community Shield -- but Kante played down the notion that the Gunners have figured out a way to consistently get the better of their London rivals.
"I think they know how we play and also we know how they play," he continued. "It's going to be a good fight, and we need to be ready for Sunday's game but I think [the teams] know each other. We need to win, because it's important for us."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.