France manager Didier Deschamps reckons N’Golo Kante is capable of playing in an advanced midfield position at Chelsea, adding that the World Cup-winning midfielder is always having “fun” all the time.
Upon arriving on the shores of England from France in 2015, Kante went on to establish himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. Having won a fairy tale championship with Leicester in his debut season in the Premier League, the French stopper made the switch to Chelsea in 2016 where he went on to add a second consecutive league title while also finishing the season as the league’s Player of the Season.
Blessed with probably the most durable pairs of lungs and legs in the game, Kante usually played at the base of midfield, shielding the back four with his astute positional awareness and an unrivalled knack of breaking up play, recovering possession before furnishing the ball forward to start attacks.
The Blues star displayed such characteristics in the World Cup, occupying the midfield base with such authority that allowed the likes of Paul Pogba and Co. to roam further forward, assured with the fact that Kante will be able to provide cover.
Under Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus went all the way to win football’s biggest prize for the first time since 1998 but going back to Chelsea after the France national team’s triumph in Russia this summer, under a new manager in Maurizio Sarri, Kante would be tasked with playing a very different role to the one he was used to playing in previous years.
With Sarri’s preferred midfield trio, Kante has been shifted forward into the right-hand side in order to accommodate Jorginho at the base. Playing further up the pitch, the French midfielder’s responsibilities morphed into a more attacking dynamic without altogether abandoning defensive sensibilities.
As such, the marked difference in Kante’s roles between club and country may prove to be a matter of concern for either Sarri or Deschamps yet the latter declared he has no qualms whatsoever about the midfielder’s new role at the west London club.
“He is able (to play higher on the pitch). He can play deeper also, where he is very useful and very powerful,” said the France boss. (At Chelsea), he’s in a more [in a] creative role. With what his coach asks him, and his system, he is brought to play very high.
“He has more freedom. He is very comfortable with the ball, so it doesn’t cause him any problems. He’s always having fun. He also takes it by playing deeper, but he is now in the offensive part, but he still has the quality of cutting out passes and recovering balls.
“He is a little more involved in attacks, in the last third or the penultimate pass. This is a less frequent situation when he is playing in front of the defence.”