Chelsea and France midfielder N’Golo Kante has been crowned Players’ Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) after winning the vote of his fellow Premier League stars.
Kante, who is on course to help Chelsea to the top-flight title 12 months after doing the same with unfancied Leicester, beat team-mate Eden Hazard into second place, with Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic third.
Tottenham and England starlet Dele Alli retained the Young Player of the Year award, becoming only the fourth man to achieve the accolade in successive seasons.
Kante said: “It’s a huge honour to be chosen by the other players and it’s very special to get this award. My first two seasons have been very beautiful. We have to finish well but so far it’s a very good season.”
Asked the secret to his success, he added: “A desire to improve, to work, to work for the team, to win every time. At the moment we have done very well. We have to finish the season very well.”
Kante has been a virtual ever-present for Chelsea in their resurgence under Antonio Conte, playing almost every minute of their Premier League season but for a single match missed through suspension and the dying stages of their defeat at Tottenham in January.
The 26-year-old has the second highest number of tackles in the top flight this term, after Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, and interceptions, after United’s Ander Herrera.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku of Everton and Tottenham’s Harry Kane were the other players on the six-man shortlist for the main award.
Alli, meanwhile, joined Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler and Ryan Giggs in retaining the Young Player of the Year gong following another impressive campaign for Spurs.
The versatile 21-year-old has scored 21 goals in all competitions for club and country, including seven in his last nine Tottenham appearances as they have chased leaders Chelsea.
Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze won the Women’s PFA Player of the Year crown, while Jess Carter of Birmingham City Ladies won the Young Player of the Year award.