Maurizio Sarri has passed the halfway point into his first season as Chelsea manager, and he stays well on course for his and the boards season objectives of a top four finish, and a real challenge for silverware.

As the Italian former banker continues to implement his system, I am still seeing many supporters question his use of N’Golo Kante.

Fans assume that because Kante is one of the best interceptors and ball winners in the game, that he should be sitting in the role currently occupied by Jorginho – because according to some, he ‘is he best defensive midfielder in the game’.

My first response to that and I’ve said it many times before, is that Chelsea don’t use a typical DM. They use a deep lying playmaker, a lot like Andrea Pirlo did at the end of his career. Nobody can tell me that Kante can play that role, because he can’t.

Secondly, it’s a myth that Kante is a born DM. He actually started his professional career as a winger. He then got reverted to a central midfielder, playing the box to box role. Even at Leicester City he didn’t stay as a holding midfielder, he played as a double pivot, which again is different to the traditional defensive midfielder role.

Finally, do you really want to restrict Kante from using two of his top attributes by keeping him in a deep defensive position all match? Because if you keep him deep, you will not get the best out of his pace, and his incredible unlimited match engine.

Where he is now you are getting the best use of his best assets. He can still be an interceptor, but further forward as well as defensively. But he can also use his pace and excellent ability he has to carry the ball without having to worry about leaving gaps behind him. He can also use his energy going box to box in a high press system, which to me is his best position/role.

Yes I admit he can still panic a little when in very advanced positions, and that’s something I feel he is slowly improving this season. But Sarri has already said that Kante is in there for the defensive balance of his midfield – which is essential. Just as it is essential for me that Kante plays as a box to box midfielder, and not a holding midfielder.

Holding = restricted, and not using his best assets.

Simon Phillips

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