Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel believes N’Golo Kante is a bigger legend at Stamford Bridge than Didier Drogba.
Kante, 31, has been a standout performer since joining the Blues in 2016 but is not overly praised despite winning the Premier League and Champions League with the club.
Drogba, meanwhile, is considered a Chelsea icon, having secured three league titles and a Champions League triumph as the side’s main striker between 2005 and 2010.
However, Tuchel thinks Kante’s career in west London deserves more notice and claims the Frenchman has been the key to the club’s recent success.
Asked if Kante should be spoken of alongside Drogba, Tuchel said: ‘For sure, but because he is not that obvious, he is not in the spotlight, he is even more important for a team because a guy like N’Golo with the mentality of a helper, a water carrier, this makes the difference and big teams and successful teams need this.
That’s why we love him so much, and everybody wants to play with him and why we miss him so much when he is not there.’
Kante rose to prominence after forming the bedrock to Leicester City’s shock Premier League title win in 2016.
The same year he made the switch to Chelsea, who pipped the likes of Arsenal to his signing.
In six years at the club, Kante, who is out of contract next summer, has made 259 appearances and scored 12 goals, while winning four major trophies.
This season, he has missed more than half of Chelsea’s campaign with a number of different injuries.
The Blues are set to finish third in the league but have crawled over the line, with Tuchel describing securing a Champions League spot as a ‘miracle’ due to Kante’s absences.
He added: ‘I think he is our key, key, key player; but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch.
‘He plays only 40 per cent of the games. So it’s maybe a miracle that we arrived in third place.
‘Because he is our Mo Salah, he is our (Virgil) Van Dijk, he is our (Kevin) De Bruyne, he is simply that player.
‘He is our Neymar, he is our Kylian Mbappe; he is the guy who makes the difference.’