Chelsea's first half decade of success under Roman Abramovich was made memorable by some truly wonderful talent.

Players such as Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien cast a mould for success at the club that has never really been equalled since, in terms of true Premier League domination.

But there was one payer who shaped that side more than any other: the midfield distributor, the defensive repeller, the conduit for everything – Claude Makelele.

Take away any one of those greats, and Chelsea had resources to replace them.

Take away Makelele and they were a different side.

The Frenchman moved on after five years in London in 2008, and no matter how the team has changed in its formation since, there has always been a feeling it has lacked a Makelele-like presence.

Until now.

The signing of N'Golo Kante already looks like a key moment in what is expected to be the Premier League's most valuable ever transfer window.

Claude Makelele

While the plaudits went to Jamie Vardy (Football Writers' player of the year) and Riyad Mahrez (PFA player of the year), it was another player who got many people's vote – Kante.

The role he fulfilled in Leicester City's remarkable title-winning campaign was not a fashionable one, but it was a vital one.

As with Makelele: take him out, and it is a different side.

The comparisons between the two men go back a fair way: it was 2012 when French regional newspaper La Voix du Nord likened the young midfielder from third-tier Boulogne to the Chelsea and Real Madrid great.

Though when asked it was a different Blues 'water carrier', in the famously scathing words used by Eric Cantona of Didier Deschamps, who Kante cited as an influence: Lassana Diarra.

Diarra is just one of a number of the names a procession of Chelsea bosses have tried to use to fill Makelele's eponymous role.

Video thumbnail, Antonio Conte speaks for the first time as Chelsea manager
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Neither defensive midfielder, nor truly a simple 'holding' man, when done in the true image of the man who gave his name to it, the job description includes being the pistons, sparkplugs and main engine block of the team.

Names such as Oriol Romeu, Nemanja Matic, John Mikel Obi are all mentioned in passing here: players who have variously attempted different aspects of that posting, rarely to truly deliver it fully.

The difference between those, and the great man, is that they all looked at times like stand-ins: facsimiles, approximations, often conversions from other positions.

Kante looks like he was born to play it.

A 2016 online meme, which few can fail to have seen, involves Chelsea's new midfield signing.

'70% of the world is covered by water,' it says, 'the rest is by N'Golo Kante'.

Yes, it is hackneyed and more than a little tiresome, as these viral skits often are. But it has more than a hint of truth, highlighting exactly what Antonio Conte can expect to get form his new man.

Second signing: N'Golo Kante has joined Antonio Conte's Chelsea

Chelsea, in this last dreadful season, seemed to lack direction, commitment, and focus. There was so little drive when it mattered.

No one player can miraculously restore such flaws in the character of a side: but Kante looks exactly the sort of model needed to plug the hole in the dam.

It is a triumph to have signed him, especially with Chelsea in the state they are: no European football, mid-table, in a transitory phase.

Kante's ear appears to have been caught early, and one imagines he has also been sent one or two videos to illustrate exactly what Conte did for the career of Andrea Pirlo while his club boss.

Make no mistake, Kante is one of the the signings of the summer. Of any summer.

We are starting to learn exactly what the new Chelsea will look like under Conte and it seems certain it will look a lot like Kante.

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