N'Golo Kante, the former Chelsea and France midfielder, has completed the takeover of Royal Excelsior Virton, a third-tier Belgian club. The 32-year-old, who recently joined Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad in a lucrative deal, announced his new venture on Thursday. The club, based in the small town of Virton in the Luxembourg province of Belgium, was relegated from the Challenger Pro League in 2022-23 and is free of all debt. A new board of directors is expected to be installed in the coming days.
Kante bought the club from Flavio Becca, who expressed his happiness to hand over the keys to a "high-class player" with "widely recognised human qualities". Kante said he was driven by his passion for football and wanted to structure the club to consolidate its foundations, stabilise its staff and eventually reconnect with the tradition of training Virton's youth academy.
Kante becomes the latest celebrity owner of a football club, following the likes of David Beckham, who owns Inter Miami in MLS, and Wilfried Zaha, who teamed up with rapper Stormzy to buy AFC Croydon Athletic, as well as Ryan Reynolds who owns Wrexham AFC of the fourth tier league in the English football.
Kante had a stellar career at Chelsea, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League. He was also a key member of France's World Cup-winning squad in 2018. He was named the Champions League Men’s Midfielder of the Season for 2020-21 after his outstanding performances in the knockout stages.
After a lacklustre 2022–2023 season, Kante left the Premier League without leaving a mark on his career. Kante will play alongside Karim Benzema for Al Ittihad, the reigning Saudi Pro League champions. Initially, there were rumours that Kante will earn a massive salary of just over £86 million (€100 million), but it's now believed that this sum will be dispersed over the course of his four-year contract.