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19th Dec, 2016 | 2:33pm

Leading the title challenge: Chelsea 25-year-old is 2016 player of the year

COMMENT By Dominic Toner

Football Insider names the Chelsea player of the year for 2016.

Several players have contributed to a remarkable turnaround this year, with the Blues emerging as title favourites this Christmas after a 10th-placed finish in the Premier League last season.

Key Chelsea attackers Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have been influential in the club’s current 11-game winning run, but it is midfielder N’Golo Kante who swoops the player of the year award for his performances.

The 25-year-old only completed a move to Stamford Bridge in the summer transfer window and it shows just how influential he has been to the side during his short stay.

The combative midfielder has perfectly slotted into the starting line up and completely changed the fortunes of the team.

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He was a crucial reason in Leicester’s unlikely Premier League title triumph last season and he now looks set to repeat the success with Chelsea.

Kante has made just 18 appearances for the Blues and has completed every minute of the club’s 17 Premier League games this season, but will miss the Boxing Day clash against Bournemouth as he serves a one-game suspension.

The defensive midfielder has been the perfect player to protect the back three and has formed solid partnerships alongside both Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has enjoyed great success since switching to a 3-4-3 formation and Kante’s defensive cover is essential to the system.

The France international has developed his game even further with the Blues and is extremely comfortable in possession.

Kante is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and he has been a revelation to Chelsea since his arrival, changing them from a struggling mid-table side, to a potentially record breaking team.

In other Chelsea news, the club’s supporters reacted on Twitter to a defender’s performance against Crystal Palace.