Kante was one of Leicester’s star players in their incredible Premier League title winning campaign last season, but was sold to Chelsea for £30million during the summer.
Frenchman Kante has gone from strength to strength at Stamford Bridge and is in line to win his second title in as many years.
But Ranieri, who was brutally sacked as Leicester boss last month, admits the decision to allow Kante to leave was out of his hands.
“I didn’t want to sell Kante,” Ranieri said on Monday Night Football.
- Arsene Wenger speaks after dismal display against4:30
- Emmanuel Adebayor scores hat-trick against Galata0:46
- Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku hang out again0:30
- Dan Crowley scores stunner for Go Ahead Eagles0:43
- Marcelo Allende scores brilliant goal for Chile u0:19
- Jack Wilshere reveals his childhood music tastes1:14
- Dynamo teaches Barcelona stars magic3:45
- Yaya Sanogo scores brilliant goal in Arsenal trai0:32
Diego Costa loses it while playing FIFA with Kante
“I didn’t want to sell Mahrez and Vardy because I believe these players were the heart of the team.
“I said to them ‘we have started making a fairytale which we can continue. I believe we can do something in the Champions League.’
“I said the biggest mistake was me believing in my players before I was sacked, but after I was sacked I realised I was right to believe in them.”
Ranieri, speaking publicly for the first time since his sacking, has revealed that he almost signed another Premier League star instead of Kante after they lost Esteban Cambiasso to Olympiacos.
Southampton midfielder Jordy Clasie was the primary target, but Italian boss Ranieri opted for Kante – and even planned to play him as a winger initially.
Ranieri said: “At the beginning, we were looking at another international player to put there. Because we lost Cambiasso. He was the main man. I tried to keep him but he said no I want to go away.
“We wanted another international player but this player didn’t choose Leicester, he chose another team in another country. In the end, we had Kante and Clasie. I said take Kante, I’d like Kante.
“I watched him two or three times. I started him as a left winger!
“I put him there because during the training session I said I had to find a solution for him. I started with him there but after I put him in the middle.
“How can I not put him in the team? He was there to support everybody. At the beginning I put him on the left but after I put him in the middle with Drinkwater because the couple made a very good difference.
On Kante’s comparisons to Claude Makelele, Ranieri added: “Makelele started when he was younger as a right winger. Afterwards he was less mobile and more of an organiser. This man (Kante) is a very serious man. He was born for football.”