Analysis

Chelsea boss talks Kante; says “he isn’t the best”

There has been a lot of debate over how Maurizio Sarri has used Kante at Chelsea and the Italian is still not ready to back down on his opinion.

‘Not the best’ at moving the ball quickly

Maurizio Sarri had the same response when he was asked about Kante’s position in his Chelsea side.“In that position, I want a player able to move the ball very fast. This is not the best characteristic of N’Golo. N’Golo is very useful for us, but this one is not his best characteristic.” When it was pointed out to the coach that the midfielder has won a World Cup and two Premier League titles as a defensive midfielder, Sarri replied, “But in another system.”

Sarri refused to acknowledge fans’ criticism over the tactics in the last few fixtures, including 2-0 loss to United in the FA Cup.“The system is a false problem. I know very well that when we’re losing, I have to put a striker on the pitch. When we’re winning, I have to put a defender on the pitch. But I want to see football in another way.”

“I can understand very well the frustration of our fans because they are used to winning. And now we are in trouble so I can understand it very well. But there isn’t another way. We only need to have good performances and good results.”

Kante responds

Kante thinks he could play in the ‘regista role’ that Jorginho operates in, but insists that he is concerned only with carrying out his duties for Sarri.

“It is something possible [to play Jorginho’s role], but the manager decides,” Kante said at Stamford Bridge. “It’s fine, it’s fine. I like this [more advanced] position. Prefer it? It depends on the game, but I enjoy it. I’m with the manager, and I’m enjoying the way I’m playing now.”It is a position I used to play when I was in France. I’m enjoying participating more in the offensive positions to change the game. I am enjoying it.”

Chelsea

Author’s Take

Maurizio Sarri is an experienced man and is well within his rights to persist with his ideas. And he is correct in suggesting that the Kante was playing in a different system when he won the World Cup and the Premier League. Kante has also played in alongside a fellow midfielder in both the cases. At Leicester he has Drinkwater. Under Conte, Nemanja Matic was next to him. Even at the World Cup, Deschamps had frequently deployed Pogba in a deeper role.

But the problem here is not Kante, its Jorginho. The Italian was hailed when he played for the same manager at the same position at Napoli bu has struggled at Stamford Bridge. But this is less to do with Jorginho and more of Sarri’s fault.

It is clear how the Serie A and the Premier League are two different leagues in style. But Sarri hasn’t tweaked his ideas enough to adjust a more aggressive league and is paying the price. It is true that Guardiola was given time and he stuck to his philosophy through his time at City. But was set Guardiola apart is his ability to play around within his ideology and constantly innovate. Will Sarri follow suit? He will have to if he wishes to remain at the helm at Chelsea.

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