N’Golo Kante is a “fundamental” part of France’s team because of the character he shows on the pitch, according to international team-mate Lucas Hernandez.
The Chelsea defender was an unused substitute as the World Cup winners battled to a 2-2 friendly draw at home to Iceland on Thursday, with his absence notable as the hosts struggled to Effectively nullify the visitors in midfield.
Kylian Mbappe eventually inspired a late comeback from being two goals down, with the Paris Saint-Germain star forcing a Holmar Eyjolfsson own goal and scoring a late penalty.
Kante is expected to come straight back into the starting XI for the visit of Germany in the Nations League on Tuesday, and Lucas is confident he will make a difference.
“The character he shows on the pitch, the desire he has – they make him a very important player,” the Atletico Madrid defender told reporters.
“He is everywhere, he gets 15-20 balls per game – he’s huge. Having a midfielder like him is a fundamental piece [of the team].”
Lucas also heaped praise on fellow Les Bleus man Thomas Lemar, who has joined him at Atletico in pre-season and appears to have adapted well to life under the infamously demanding Diego Simeone.
The 22-year-old even thinks Lemar has settled quicker than Antoine Griezmann did after joining from Real Sociedad in 2014.
“Lemar is a very great player, he has adapted very quickly to Atletico, which is not easy,” Lucas added.
“Antoine had trouble early, all the big players had trouble. He concentrated and he is an indisputable starter with us.
“In the national team he is not an indisputable starter, but he is a great player. In each training session he gives the maximum, he has a very good mentality.”
France’s Nations League clash against former world champions Germany is their final game of the current international break, though they face Netherlands and Uruguay next month.
Lucas and Lemar both return to Atletico, who next travel to Villarreal in La Liga on Saturday while Kante’s Chelsea host Manchester United in the Premier League.