On a drizzly afternoon in July 2016, Chelsea grabbed themselves a bargain. N'Golo Kante completed his £32 million pound move from the King Power to Stamford Bridge. This wasn't just your average signing. It was a statement of intent.
Two years after Claudio Ranieri sold the tireless midfielder, Kante is widely viewed as one of the best in world football in his position, and deservedly made the the FIFA World Team of the Year for 2018.
Kante's influence in the past few years has been priceless for both club and country, but what about the 27-year-old's humble beginnings at local amateur club Suresnes?
"The Messi of winning the ball back!" :muscle:- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 23, 2018
Water covers 71% of the earth's surface...they say N'Golo Kante covers the rest :raised_hands:pic.twitter.com/6okvdqXHJZ
How did he develop from playing in a suburb of Paris, just across the River Seine from the Bois de Boulogne, to playing in front of 41,000 at Stamford Bridge and winning two Premier League titles for two different teams?
Not too long ago, Kante wasn't even playing regular first team football in the French 3rd division, but let's begin at the start of his rather incredible journey.
After being turned down by several clubs, a 20-year-old N'Golo Kante was given a chance in Boulogne's reserve team. During that time, he helped the side move up to the fifth division. Kante admitted back in 2016 that he only started to believe that he could make it as a professional a few years ago:
"They (Boulogne) were in the sixth tier and it was their reserve team that I played for. With the reserve team we got promoted to the fifth tier so then I at that time I moved up to the first team who were at that time playing in the third tier.
"It was when I left my own environment in Suresnes and played for Boulogne that I finally started to have a desire and a belief that I could make it as a professional footballer." he told LCFC.
It may have taken him two years to be handed that highly anticipated debut but in May 2012, Kante made his professional debut on the final day of the Ligue 2 season. He appeared for already relegated Boulogne in a brief 11 minute cameo, losing 2-1 to Monaco.
It wasn't exactly a dream debut, but it was a start and the midfielder knew the importance of taking his chances. The following season, Kante began to make an impression in the French third division and broke into Boulogne's first team after a number of solid performances in the centre of midfield.
"At Boulogne I learned a lot of the technical and the tactic and this made me improve a lot. I wasn't thinking to play in the Premier League or something like that at that stage, but when I went to Boulogne I had the ambition to become a professional football player and my ambition was to get in the first team.
"When I went into the first team it was a pleasure." he told Chelsea's official website.
Boulogne finished in 13th place, while Kante missed just one game out of 38 during the 2012/13 campaign. It was a huge breakthrough season and Ligue 2 side Caen decided to bring the midfielder to the Stade Michel d'Ornano on a free.
It was a stroke of genius from manager Patrice Garande. Not only did Kante contribute heavily to Caen's promotion to Ligue 1, but he helped the club maintain a place in France's top league the following year.
In the space of three years, Kante went from playing in France's sixth division to Ligue 1. It was a huge step up, but he proved his ability to adapt and improve. Leicester City had picked up on his unique talents.
We all know what happened next.
Kante's incredible ability to intercept and retain the ball was a perfect match for the Premier League. His contribution to Leicester's title winning season cannot be overstated, and he followed it up by replicating his heroics at Chelsea in 2016/17, deservedly winning the PFA Player of the Year award as the Blues won the league under Antonio Conte.
He's been a revelation for France as well, playing absolutely of his skin in his first World Cup and being a crucial factor in Les Bleus' ending 20 years without winning the biggest prize in football.
2012: Playing in Ligue 2- kwiff (@KwiffOfficial) November 23, 2018
2013: Playing in Ligue 1
2015: Moves to the Premier League
2016: Wins the League with Leicester
2017: Wins the League again with Chelsea
2018: Wins the World Cup with France
Today: N'golo Kante signs a new 5 year deal with Chelsea!
The rise of N'golo :heart_eyes: pic.twitter.com/PAEweUbqjY
Former Leicester scout Steve Walsh was an integral reason behind the emergence of N'Golo Kante and it's interesting to hear his process when it comes to discovering the game's best talent:
"Character is very important and you can find out a lot about players when you are watching them on the pitch," Walsh told Everton's official site.
"It's not necessarily about what you do when you've got the ball, a lot of the time it's about what you do when you don't have it."
If a quote had to sum up the man himself, that would be it. What a hero.