No matter what your beliefs are on that N’golo Kante should play in his ‘own’ position, what we just saw on Sunday shows that wherever Kante plays he will still do what he usually does no matter where he is on the pitch.
The likes of Kevin de Bryune and David Silva usually stand out, but neither could hold a candle to the little Frenchman who continues to show how good he is. The only problem was that he didn’t come away with a winners medal to add to his collection. As this is the only domestic tournament he hasn’t won.
You wonder how much he would cost now, having only joined for a mere £32 million in 2016. Let’s discuss the fan favourite.
N’Golo Kante Sublime Yet Again
This is something that really divided fans and critics as soon as Maurizio Sarri came in. The initial move was from playing in a two-man centre midfield pair to a three which was a natural formation change. This was something he could easily get used to having played there for France. However, it was the move from a more defensive minded role into a high pressing, ball carrying, more advanced role which became an issue.
It is such a decisive issue and whilst he may be suited to the more defensive-minded role, his previous managers (Ranieri, Conte and Deschamps) have all stated he does more than just be a defensive midfielder who sits in front of the back four. As part of a 4-3-3 system, he should sit deepest. But, at least one of the other two midfielders, if not both should be able to sit in if and when Kante does decide to go and press or travel with the ball like he can.
Chelsea midfields of old have had that balance. The Essien, Lampard and Ballack midfield trio had that ability to switch around but predominately you had Essien the deepest and Lampard the most advanced. A better midfield I would like to see at some point before the end of the season would be Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Just to see whether that has a better balance to it with Jorginho out of the side.
Moving onto Jorginho, he is the reason as to why N’Golo Kante plays slightly further forward. He is Sarri’s orchestrator sitting the deepest out of the midfield three. Whilst the jury is still out on the Italian, he needs to improve if he wants to make in England.
It is clear to see he doesn’t have the defensive attributes Kante does. Whether these two can play together more effectively remains to be seen. Playing in a deep-lying two will make the team more solid defensively and take the pressure off Jorginho as well as giving the likes of Loftus-Cheek the freedom to be played further forward.
Despite Chelsea losing on penalties, it was a team performance that was needed. If not just to demonstrate the player’s motivation to the fans and manager. At the heart of this was N’Golo Kante. Racking up the most tackles on the team with seven and three clearances on top; he was certainly very busy on the day.
It shows how willing a runner he is which of course we already know. But, as Hazard was set through by himself in the City box with defenders all around him. The only Chelsea player to bust a gut to get into the box was Kante, who fired narrowly over after covering 40-50 yards. That’s what he gives this team. That is why he is such a vital player going forward.
Chelsea have to be careful with Kante. He is the type of player that could improve any team he steps into. Which means many clubs will be interested if for any reason he becomes unsettled. Whilst he is a dedicated professional and fully committed to Chelsea.
The continuing problems with the midfield and the overall team performances in the long term could force him to move on. The club will have to show that intent to get back to challenging for titles and trophies. However, with the impending transfer ban, it could cause a lot of issues not only for Kante but the club.
What we saw on Sunday was that he can be very effective at both ends of the pitch. If Chelsea had more of a potent threat from the wings they would have won this game. Going forward, Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Gonzalo Higuain need to start more regularly. Then, it will add that attacking threat meaning N’Golo Kante won’t have to venture as far forward.
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