Chelsea and France midfielder N’golo Kante is recognized as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, putting in consistent performances season after season. From his title winning season with Leicester City in 2016, to winning it the next season with Chelsea in 2017.
The 2018 World Cup winner with France had established his status as one of, if not the best defensive midfielder (DM) in the Premier League and the world at large until the summer of 2018.
The 2018/19 season under manager Maurizio Sarri saw Chelsea play with a regista playing deep in a 4-3-3 system, and Sarri didn’t favour Kante in that role. In his words, he said “I think, as you know, I want to play a central midfielder as a very technical player, a Jorginho or [Cesc] Fabregas. I don’t want Kante in this position.”
Sarri may have come and gone, but that season sowed a seed of doubt among some fans about the ‘technical ability’ of N’golo Kante. So this season (2020/21), when manager Frank Lampard returned Kante to his natural defensive midfield position, some fans and analyst raised eyebrows.
Even with outstanding performances against the likes of Burnley, Sheffield United etc., some fans still question his suitability when Chelsea play a high pressing team and in the win over Leeds United, they got their answer. N’golo Kante played as the lone DM with two attacking midfielders in a 4-3-3 system. Speaking after the match Chelsea coach Lampard had this to say about Frenchman-
“When there is going to be a test put in front of him he quietly goes about it in the most incredible way. The Leeds midfield so mobile, the test was always going to be there and I felt we dealt with it brilliantly. N’Golo was a big part of that.”
Kante had one of his best displays this season, with twenty one pressures, twelve ball recoveries, four tackles, two interceptions and four progressive passes, coming top in most stats.
His ability to drive the ball forward from midfield also helped in breaking the Leeds United press, and start the attack.
His performance on the weekend should put an end to the doubt about his “technical ability”. Kante like almost every player has his limitation, but what he brings to that Chelsea midfield by far outweighs any weakness, and he definitely is the best fit in that defensive midfield role.
Written by-Lewis Ehiaghe (@lewiskid90)
Cover photo- The Sun