N’Golo Kante – Licence to roam under Antonio Conte?

Chelsea fans were jubilant at the signing of N’Golo Kante in the summer as we finally had found a...

Chelsea fans were jubilant at the signing of N’Golo Kante in the summer as we finally had found a natural replacement for Claude Makelele’. Two months into the season we have to ask whether or not we are getting the best out of him?

We all sat and watched with admiration his performances for Leicester City last year. Arguably their most important player, it came as a surprise that he was allowed to leave the Champions. As we have seen with Leicester’s Premier League struggles, including the hammering at Old Trafford a week or so ago, it’s apparent that without him in their midfield, they are nowhere near the same team this year.

Coming to Chelsea and based on just how influential he was at Leicester in the holding/defensive midfield role, you would expect him to slot straight into the same position under Antonio Conte. However, after seven games of the new season, I am struggling to understand exactly where he is playing.

In those seven games, we have seen Conte adopt the 4-2-3-1 formation which has become the trusted formation of the last two to three years, a 4-1-4-1 formation, a 4-3-3 formation and finally a 3-4-3 formation against Hull City on Saturday.

In those formations that have been tested so far in the Premier League, we have seen Kante push forward at times as a box-to-box midfielder which has been a surprise to all of us. I understand that we need to harness and utilise the amazing energy that he appears to have but in my view it should be done where he is the most effective and that’s sitting in front of our back four.

We have other players in the central midfield position that are far more effective going forward such as Matic, Fabregas and Oscar. We bought Kante for a reason and surely based on our defensive frailties exposed against Liverpool and Arsenal, we have to give him strict instruction to play in that area alone?

I have to say against Arsenal I thought his personal performance was woeful and the worst I think I had seen in play in the Premier League overall. He was caught out of position on more than one occasion, we all witnessed his feeble attempt to challenge Mesuz Ozil in the Arsenal half that led to their third goal and generally, as with the other players, never turned up or gave anything like the level of performance we expect.

Against Hull it was a different story as we saw glimpses of the Kante of last season, hassling players, stepping in front of players to win the ball back and most importantly, tracking back to make a challenge. That’s what I want to see from Kante and nothing else.

What do you think of his performances so far, the apparent licence to roam in previous weeks and what do you think would be his best role under Conte?


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