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Paul Pogba has hailed his France team-mate N’Golo Kante as the best player in the world ahead of this summer’s European Championships. Kante is set to play a major part in France’s Euro 2020 campaign and Pogba believes he deserves to win this year’s Balon d’Or.
France are the favourites for Euro 2020, which kicks off on Friday when Italy take on Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
With stars like Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe in attack, Pogba and Kante in midfield and Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe in defence, they will take some stopping.
Kante comes into the tournament in brilliant form, having put in a fantastic performance to help Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Champions League final.
The 30-year-old midfielder was named man of the match in the final, as well as both legs of Chelsea’s semi-final victory over Real Madrid, confirming his almost unique brilliance.
Pogba thinks that, with Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus both falling in the last-16 of the competition, Kante’s consistency deserves to be recognised with the Balon d’Or.
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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,” he told Eurosport.
“We talk a lot about his performances but he has always been as good as ever.
“There was no Cristiano and Messi in the [Champions League] 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.
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“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.”
If Kante were to win the award, which was cancelled last year due to Covid-19 and will not be handed out until December, then he would be the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
Luka Modric is the only player to break Messi and Ronaldo’s monopoly of the award in the last 13 years since Kaka scooped it in 2007.
Should Kante excel at the Euros then he would have a good chance of following in Modric’s footsteps, but Pogba is not taking France’s progression this summer for granted.
“We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don’t win a trophy,” he said.
“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.”
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