LONDON: Jamie Vardy decided to stay with Premier champions Leicester City despite Arsenal’s pursuit, but not all his triumphant team-mates from last season feel the same sense of loyalty with midfielder Ngolo Kante joining Chelsea for £30m.
The France midfielder has signed a five-year contract with the Blues, swapping one Italian manager in Claudio Ranieri for another in Antonio Conte.
The 25-year-old, on Chelsea’s website, said: “I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a dream come true for me.
“The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world was simply too good to turn down.
“My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time as a Chelsea player.
“I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and helping the club achieve a lot of success.”
Kante, signed for Leicester last summer as a virtual unknown from Caen for £5.6m, was a revelation during his maiden season in England.
He was named on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award – won by Foxes team-mate Riyad Mahrez – but his displays also brought him to the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Kante, who was also part of the France squad which finished runners-up to Portugal at Euro 2016, becomes the Blues’ second summer signing after Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi.
Leicester recently secured top scorer Vardy on a new contract amid interest from Arsenal and tried to do the same with the Frenchman.
But the loss of Kante will be a major blow to their plans for next season, while Mahrez is also reportedly eyeing a move away as the team which stunned English football last season threatens to break up.
A statement from Leicester said: “Despite the offer of a substantially improved, long-term contract, made before this summer’s European Championships, it became apparent after the tournament that N’Golo’s wish was to join Chelsea.
“Leicester City would like to place on record its sincere thanks to N’Golo for his contribution to the most successful season in the club’s history. He departs with the best wishes of everyone at Leicester City.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, are delighted with their purchase, with technical director Michael Emenalo adding: “N’Golo is a fantastic signing ahead of the new season and we are delighted to have been able to bring such a talented player to the club.
“He is a perfect fit in terms of Antonio Conte’s philosophies and the style of football he wants to play.
“For a player of his age he has already built up a wealth of experience and his exceptional quality will without doubt be a great addition to the team.”