But Makelele - Kante's French compatriot - is reluctant to anoint him as his successor just yet, saying Kante has not faced enough trials and tribulations in his career so far.
Kante, 26, was a vital part of Antonio Conte's Chelsea side as they marched towards the Premier League title this year. It was Kante's second championship in a row, having helped Leicester City to one of the most improbable triumphs in European football in 2016.
Kante's performances earned him the Football Writers Association's Player of the Year gong in May, adding to a list of accolades.
But Makelele, 44, equally diminutive, combative and a two-time Premier League winner with Chelsea before retiring in 2010, is cautious about saying he has passed the baton - for now.
“At the moment Kante is special and one of the best midfielders. The problem is, I played 25 years in football at this level and comparisons are being made in a bad way,” he told Reuters in an interview in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa during a publicity tour for his sponsor Heineken.
With Chelsea relieved of European duty this season, having failed to qualify, Makelele said the absence of a tougher schedule had benefited Kante's energetic displays and that next season will be different.
“This season he did not play in the Champions League. Every four days there will be games. With the national team there will be games. There will be a lot of games. He needs to get that experience,” he said.
“When he is at that level, he will not run 90 minutes all the time. He will need to listen to the rhythm, the way he plays. This will be key for him. I hope this will be the situation. I hope he does better than I did in my career.”
Chelsea summer transfer targets
Chelsea summer transfer targets
1/10 1. Alvaro Morata, Juventus
Chelsea are reported to have already agreed a deal with the Spaniard, who has scored 15 league goals compared to the 9 of Karim Benzema despite playing 3 less games, but is often sidelined by the Frenchman, contributing to Morata’s openness to a move this summer. €70m is the rumoured fee for the 24 year-old, which could happen if Chelsea fetch the £75-80 million it is thought Tianjin Quanjian will pay for Diego Costa.
2/10 2. Franck Kessie, Atalanta
The first of many Serie A players on the list is Atalanta’s Franck Kessie, who scored six goals in 32 in the league from central midfield. The 20-year-old is subject of an offer from Roma, but it is thought that Conte sees the energetic Ivorian as a good option for the coming season and could intervene if the player decides to leave. A sum of just over £20m is expected to be enough to secure Kessie’s signature.
3/10 3. Antonio Rudiger, AS Roma
The German centre back is one of two Roma players in contention this summer. At 24, Rudiger has been capped 12 times by the World Champions and has been a standout figure at the back for his club. He is quick for a centre half, comfortable on the ball and is relatively versatile having played all across Roma’s back line during his time at the club. His price has been touted as £70m combined with the second Roma player on this list.
4/10 4. Radja Nainggolan, AS Roma
Fiery midfielder Nainggolan was the target of a Chelsea bid last summer, and it is thought that Conte could prise him away from Italy this time around, as part of a double swoop with Antonio Rudiger at £70m. He is a player the former Juventus manager knows very well, and would fit perfectly into Chelsea’s side with his combative style. While Roma will be desperate to avoid letting two key players go in one hit, it may be difficult to turn down the right offer.
5/10 5. Alex Sandro, Juventus
Sandro is emerging as one of Europe’s finest left backs and the Juventus man will be high on Conte’s list of targets. He is far more mobile than Marcos Alonso and would unlikely find it difficult adapting to Conte’s methods, which are largely similar to that of current Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri. The player is also being tracked by Manchester City, and could cost upwards of £40m.
6/10 6. David Stockdale, Brighton
Asmir Begovic is likely to leave Stamford Bridge in search of regular first-team football, and David Stockdale is an option for Chelsea. The 31 year-old keeper is out of contract this summer and helped his current club secure promotion to the Premier League this season. However, his error in the final game gifted Aston Villa an equaliser and Newcastle top spot in the Championship, and Stockdale later posted on twitter that he was ‘gutted to go out like that’ and thanked Brighton’s fans and staff, adding fuel to the fire over the exit rumours.
7/10 7. Ben Gibson, Middlesbrough
Gibson’s stellar performances have been widely recognised over the course of this season and the 24-year-old centre back has worked his way into the England set-up. He is in a similar mould to the departing Terry and Conte is supposedly a big admirer of the £30m rated Middlesbrough man.
8/10 8. Romelu Lukaku, Everton
Ex-Chelsea frontman Lukaku is expected to finally leave Everton this summer, and was recently spotted with the West London club’s technical director Michael Emenalo after Everton’s loss at Stamford Bridge in April. Despite this, Manchester United are thought to be in the driving seat for his signature amid concerns from the player over whether he would fit into Conte’s strict system. A £74m transfer is possible, but could be scuppered by Mourinho’s interest.
9/10 9. Andrea Belotti, Torino
Another forward linked to Chelsea is Andrea Belotti, who at 23 has his best years ahead of him. The €100m release clause, applicable only to clubs outside of Italy, which was negotiated into his contract by club president Urbano Cairo, makes a move seem increasingly unlikely; nonetheless, the Italian is at the very least on Chelsea’s radar this summer.
10/10 10. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is thought to be seeking a move away from the Emirates this season after the Gunners’ disappointing campaign. He has stalled over signing a new contract, and with his current deal expiring next summer, Chelsea’s London rivals are at serious risk of losing their star man. While Wenger has insisted Arsenal no longer have to sell their best players, it could become a difficult situation if Sanchez wishes to stay in the capital and tries to force a move to Chelsea. Considering his contract situation, £55m could be enough to acquire the Chilean, with Bayern Munich apparently ready to offer exactly that at the start of the window.
In addition to Chelsea, Makelele had spells with French sides Nantes and Olympique Marseille, as well as Spain's Celta Vigo, Real Madrid and Paris St Germain, making over 600 appearances altogether.
He was part of the Champions League-winning Real side in 2002 and his former team will lock horns with Italian giants Juventus on Saturday in a bid to claim a 12th European Cup title.
Makelele expected an even contest between the star-studded sides, but said the difference would come from key tactical decisions.
“I think Juventus have made a lot of progress. For the last three years, they have been fighting for this trophy. Now I think they are ready to fight. Real won La Liga and before they have won the Champions League. They are comfortable and know how to play a final. It is normal for them,” he said.
“It is 50-50. But I think the managers (Zinedine Zidane of Real or Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus) will make the difference, and also the big players. This will be the key in the match.”Reuse content