I am one of N’Golo Kante’s biggest fans, I rate him as one of the best midfielders in the world. However, I rate him this way as a ball winning centre midfielder, not as an advanced right centre midfielder.
Antonio Conte has deployed the France International in this position as part of a rather flat 3 across the centre, with Tiemoue Bakayoko in the middle, and Cesc Fabregas on the left.
Yes, Kante did a job in Europe, but this is the type of player who can do a job in any position on the pitch because of his stamina, ability, determination and speed.
Now the whole Chelsea team were poor against Manchester City, with the exception of Andreas Christensen and perhaps Thibaut Courtois who both kept the score to a minimum. So I’m not singling out any one player here, but Kante was the poorest I’ve seen him play since he joined, but that was through no fault of his own.
Personally I NEVER want to see him in that role again, and here are my reasons…
1. Most importantly, the biggest part of his game is ball winning, breaking up play and releasing a counter attack. He cannot do this as effectively when out in a wide and more advanced position. He needs to be sitting deeper and centrally to do this so he can cover the whole width of the pitch and do what he does best, intercept possession.
2. Playing as a wide centre midfielder in a 3-5-2, you will often find yourself as the most advanced wide player baring down on goal. Now we know that Kante is not known for his goal scoring ability. Yes he will beat a player with pace and does offer some vital credibility in attacking areas, but for me he is not the one I want to see baring down on goal looking for that defence splitting pass, or trying to beat 2 defenders and search out that cross or long range shot. No, that’s not Kante.
3. Although he’s a professional and is capable of adapting to different roles, this is not his comfortable position. He’s become known as one of the best defensive midfielders in the game, so simply this is where he must play. I always say play to a players strengths, Kante is a deep lying, ball winning centre midfielder, this is where he needs to play if Chelsea are to get the very best out of him. He’ll always do a job anywhere, but to get 100% of his abilities shining through, play him in his correct position.
Next, look out for a similar article regarding Cesar Azpilicueta playing as a right wing back!
Dont get me wrong I totally trust Conte and I am not critisising him, or saying he has all of a sudden turned into a bad Coach – he isn’t, he’s one of the best in the world. But I, as many do, disagree with some recent decisions and I don’t believe we will be seeing such errors anytime soon. Yes we need to rotate, but play players to their strengths.
In Conte, we trust!
Simon Phillips @SiPhillipsCFC