Can Maurizio Sarri Get Even More Out Of N’Golo Kante At Chelsea?

When you look at the work and the ground covered by N’Golo Kante, then it’s hard to think that any manager could wish to try and get more out of the midfielder.

Not since Claude Makelele have we seen such a disciplined holding player that relishes spoiling other team’s fun and giving the ball to his talented teammates.

Yet new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri actually wants to see World Cup winner Kante push himself further by getting higher up the field.

The unassuming player himself confirmed as much:

‘Yes it’s a new manager and a new system,’  

‘I play a little bit more forward and I will give my best in this position for the team and I hope we can keep doing good things for the future.’


In the Italian coach’s first game in charge, Sarri didn’t deploy N’Golo at the base of his midfield or marshalling in front of The Blues defence. Kante played to the right of new boy Jorginho in a three man midfield, with Ross Barkley filling in on the other side (a role that Mateo Kovacic will no doubt take).

When you look at the French international’s heat-map you’ll see he stuck to his new task diligently, as you’d expect from such a reliable performer. He stayed on the right and was mainly playing inside the opponent’s half.

Against Belgium, during the World Cup semi-final match, he sat and protected his backline and hardly touched the ball inside the opponent’s end of the field. So to see him playing as much as he did in The Terriers’ half was quite something.

Maurizio quite clearly believes that the midfielder can work well in that role and you can see why. Kante is disciplined, he does work hard for the team, he can pass the ball, is intelligent, takes instruction and he’s also very athletic.

It’s funny but the twenty-seven year old can actually learn again from Makelele, when it comes to shifting positions.

Everyone talks about the holding role that Claude perfected, it was then named after him after all. But they forget that he started life as a winger and then moved to become an attacking central midfielder at Deportivo La Coruna before moving back as a defensive mid at Real Madrid. Again he showed that with good levels of discipline, intelligence and a strong work ethic that you can adapt and move around the pitch.

Kante had an 84% passing success rate, still won tackles and made two interceptions in the opening Premier League fixture. He topped off his day, playing in his more advanced role, by grabbing the club’s opening goal in their 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town. He timed his run well and scored from inside the box, showing us that Sarri was right when the coach placed faith in Kante to play in that position.

Now obviously when the tougher games arrive, you’ll then probably see more of N’Golo Kante’s defensive expertise but it could be a fascinating season as the year goes on if Maurizio Sarri continues to evolve the player’s style.

I for one, believe that he will excel in whatever role Sarri plays him in as Kante really is that good!

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