Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin has urged manager Frank Lampard to restore N’Golo Kante back to his original defensive midfield position.
Kante was utilised in a more advanced role under Maurizio Sarri last season, much to the chagrin of a large section of the match-going Chelsea fanbase.
Kante’s best position: Five things to know…
- Kante is largely considered one of the best defensive midfielders in world football.
- However, last season Sarri repositioned the Frenchman further up the field.
- This drew widespread backlash from fans and pundits alike.
- Former assistant Zola has since explained that Kante was pushed further forward because he “is not a sitting midfielder”.
- But, Nevin has now urged Lampard to deploy Kante in his habitual deep-midfield role.
This proved a huge bone of contention among pundits as well, with many questioning the Italian’s decision-making, though his assistant at Chelsea, Gianfranco Zola, has since explained that in Sarri’s 4-3-3 formation, the deepest-lying midfielder must be the most comfortable on the ball, which they believed was Jorginho.
However, in Lampard’s 4-2-3-1 the system requires two deep-lying midfielders, and Nevin believes placing Kante in one of those two slots is an absolute “no-brainer”.
In his column for the Chelsea website, he wrote: “The other massive decision for Frank going forward in the short term will be the defensive midfield area.
“With a fully fit N’Golo Kante I am sure he will want to stick him back in his original position, just to give a little more protection for those centre-backs.
“We probably all know that Frank would have done that at United in the first place had he been fully fit.
“A 4-2-3-1 with our unassuming French superstar would certainly look more solid, but then any midfield in the world would look more solid with him in there.
“I grew to love N’Golo further forward last season, but in a different system with two deeper in midfield, it is a bit of a no-brainer and I am sure he will be back there soon enough.”
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‘Mourinho: the arch pragmatist’
In the immediate afterglow of Chelsea’s opening 4-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, Jose Mourinho questioned Lampard’s team selection whilst working as a pundit for Sky Sports.
The Portuguese was bewildered by his former player’s decision to leave so much experience on the bench, an observation which Nevin agreed with, though the ex-Blue was quick to defend Lampard’s corner, suggesting injuries haven’t helped in these early stages.
He continued: “So Jose on the TV had a point that more experience might have been helpful – he has always been the arch pragmatist after all – but with options limited and a longer-term view in mind, Frank’s thinking was clear.
“It would have been nice to get a bit of luck to reward his bravery on the day though.”