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Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has said he is “enjoying” the new role he’s been playing under manager Maurizio Sarri.
The Blues boss has made the decision to push Kante into a more advanced position on the field this season, with Jorginho the man tasked with sitting deep and dictating play in front of the defence.
It’s a call that’s left some supporters miffed, as Kante is regarded by many as the standout defensive midfielder in world football.
“It is something possible [to play Jorginho’s role], but the manager decides. It’s fine, it’s fine. I like this [more advanced] position. Prefer it? It depends on the game, but I enjoy it. I’m with the manager, and I’m enjoying the way I’m playing now.
“It is a position I used to play when I was in France. I’m enjoying participating more in the offensive positions to change the game. I am enjoying it.”
With Kante not in a deep position to offer protection, the Chelsea defence has been left exposed at times, culminating in results like the 4-0 loss to Bournemouth and the 6-0 shellacking at the hands of Manchester City.
Sarri has been asked numerous times about his thinking behind not using Kante in a deeper position and clarified his stance on why Jorginho is his preferred option in this area again this week:
Chelsea FC @ChelseaFC
Sarri says he wants a player who is able to move the ball very fast as the deep-lying midfielder, which is why N’Golo Kante is not playing there. #CHEMAL
It’s to Kante’s credit that he has been able to adapt to this new position with ease this season, albeit with other areas of the team not functioning as they should around him.
On the ball, the Frenchman is better than many would give him credit for. We’ve seen him drive forward in possession on the counter-attack this season, as well as picking out passes and scoring goals. It’s a tactical tweak that’s shown Kante has more to his game than spoiling opposition attacks.
Liam Twomey of ESPN FC praised the influence Kante is capable of having on a game, regardless of where he lines up:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
If this season has proved anything, it’s that Kante’s brilliance transcends positions or tactics #cfc
Football journalist Leanne Prescott noted that neither Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic have functioned particularly well alongside him in their debut Premier League seasons:
Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne
Kovacic and Jorginho both linked to Liverpool in the past but have to be up there with two of the most ineffective midfielders this season. Impetus is on Kante to do everything in this Chelsea side.
While Kante has been able to show more facets to his game this term, ultimately the team are not performing to a high standard under Sarri, and the Italian heads into Sunday’s game under massive pressure. Dominic Fifield of the Guardian said Sarri is a “dead man walking.”
Regardless of who the Blues manager is in the coming years, the manner in which Kante has performed this season proves that if the France international is asked to carry out a specific job in midfield, he has the technical and physical attributes to execute it effectively.