Slaven Bilic has revealed Leicester star N’Golo Kante could have been playing for West Ham this season.
Bilic was close to signing the midfielder from French side Caen in the summer, but instead brought in the likes of Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and Pedro Obiang.
And, while Bilic’s summer signings have been a hit this season, he admits Kante has made a huge impression, saying the Frenchman covers so much ground he is like having an extra man on the pitch.
“Yes, we were quite close (to signing Kante),” said the Hammers boss.
“I watched him in France. He was a good player, the same player he is now with Leicester.
“He’s not very tall, but he’s one of those players that you think after 20 minutes that there are twins, that there are two of them, because the energy, the cleverness he plays with, he’s always there.
“When you watch a game on television there are players that are always on screen. They are never out, whatever you see, you see them, they are always on television. He’s one of them.
“That’s not only ability like having big lungs or legs or whatever, the capacity to run, this is in his head.
“So, he was there, but then we got some players in the same positions and it would have simply been too many players for the same position.”
Kante, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have all been nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award for their roles in Leicester’s incredible title bid.
But Bilic will have a contender of his own on the pitch when West Ham head to the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the shape of French midfield star Payet.
“Of course it’s great for him and for the club, and it also proves the club is playing good and having a good season,” added Bilic.
“He made a great impact, not only for West Ham but for the league, so he deserves it.
“He’s our player so I can’t be very objective taking about him, he is there for a reason and no one was surprised he was nominated. I hope he is going to win it.
“If not him, it’s an individual award, but has to be connected to the club, so if Leicester win the league it probably should be one of them, and Vardy would be my choice. But if Spurs win the league it should be Harry Kane.”