Regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in modern-day football Ngolo Kante is gradually drifting from what made him one of the best in his position.
After his first heroic season at Leicester with monster performances in the hearts of the Leicester city midfield, many taunted him as the best defensive midfielder in the English premier league with Iddrisu Gana Gueye only coming close to his ranks with regards to tackles, clearances and distances covered in a single game.
Ngolo Kante after one season at Leicester moved to Chelsea.
Indeed football players become better in systems and Ngolo Kante is no doubt one player who benefited from that resurgent 3-4-3 formation under Italian tactician Antonio Conte, going on to win the premier league and the best player in the premier league as well.
One thing that pundits never talked about is the number of assists he made in the title-winning season, however, most popularly because of his destructive nature no one judged him with that.
Few months after winning the premier league Kante won the world cup in a cultured fashion playing deep where he was mainly to break attacks whilst Paul Pogba surged forward to create opportunities.
Rather, unfortunately, Conte fell out of favour with Chelsea and was sacked.
Maurizio sarri was appointed hereinafter, another Italian but with a different system.
With Chelsea wanting to play a more progressive football there was no one better than Maurizio Sarri in the transfer market then.
Sarris superb performance and resurgence of Napoli caught the eye of European agents and coaches with Pep Guardiola and then Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochetino siting that Napoli is by far the best team in Europe.
Straight after the world cup, Sarri was poised with the question, where is Ngolo going to play in your 4-3-3 formation?
Not knowing how to go about he beat the question asked by the reporter stating soon they were going to know because he had plans for ngolo.
Jorginho had then signed for Chelsea and with Kovacic also join from Real Madrid clearly the only one slot left in his midfield three.
Not the defensive midfield or the breaker slot has ngolo had been placed rather far adrift at the right in the midfield.
A new role had been created in the Chelsea midfield where over the past two years most fans had Kante destroying opponent attacks, rather it was the new boy Jorginho the Italian who had joined from Naples as a deep-lying playmaker.
Ngolo with much energy most likely to recover back quickly when they had lost the ball in the attack ‘Sarris words’.
Worked perfectly in the first 5 games where Chelsea won all ….
Midway through the season things got tough, Chelsea struggled, fans murmured wanting their favourite Ngolo Kante back in that breaker role.
But Maurizio Sarri the pragmatic one insisted and played his favoured son jorginho in that role.
Jorginho and sarri got booed in instances where the system didn’t work but Maurizio never bothered, he stuck to his principles and won the Europa league thrashing Arsenal in the finals in Baku.
The season ended, Maurizio joined Juventus after Chelsea were hit by a transfer ban.
Guess who is back? Frank Lampard joined Chelsea against all odds and the transfer ban which made many managers fearing the daring Chelsea job with most record sacked coaches.
Lampard, Chelsea’s very own in the midst of the storm and transfer ban was to bring stability and qualify for the champions league but it’s not the only problem he was going to face.
A depth of midfielders of various qualities was at hand then, bakayoko,ngolo Kante, Drinkwater,jorginho, Kovacic then signed with Chelsea Ross Barkley, Mason Mount who was back from his loan spell from derby county with Lampard Ruben Loftus cheek, Billy Gilmour amongst others who had graduated from the academy.
Bakayoko and Drinkwater all went on initial loans even though Lampard asks them to stay and fight for a slot in the team …..
Lampard is widely known for 4-2-3-1 formation clearly stack straight with it especially with the absence of ngolo Kante who was out through injury.
The real defining factor under the Lampard first season at Chelsea, maybe I am yet to see another masterclass from Lampard.
The midfield two consisting of jorginho and Mateo Kovacic bossing it up against opponents was the best thing you could ever see.
Pep Guardiola the master of tika taka football stated that Lampard style of playing would be hard to break after a season or two
It was jorginho and Kovacic who stole the show in these games playing at least 300 passes in between themselves
Yet after 6games on ngolo returns to fitness and Lampard has to make room for the star midfielder to fit in
Initially, Lampard benched Christian pulisic so he could play a 4-3-1-2 with mason mount given the free role and Kante taking the same role he did under Maurizio sarri
A similar role to that of Kevin de bruyne at manchester city but yet Kante as flat he is can barely create an opportunity for his attackers to score.
Kevin de bruyne already hit double figures in assists for manchester in the premier league already with about 15games to go already.
Then you wonder why Chelsea still placed ngolo there ……..
Lampard rather not pragmatic sometimes with a 4-2-3-1 with Kovacic and Ngolo but that deep-lying playmaker role becomes empty making it difficult to build attacks from the defence as both Kovacic and most especially ngolo cant play the quick and dash properly as jorginho does.
With the number of touches, ngolo makes in an opposition box and amount of spaces he gets to create opportunities in a single game and the marginal difference opponent players playing similar roles assists and goals in the premier league question his stake at Chelsea.
Is it time for him to find a manager who would make good use of him as Deschamps, Conte and Ranieri did??
A year ago Paris Saint Germain was in for Ngolo with a 90m bid but Chelsea tied him with a longterm contract immediately.
Zidane and Real Madrid are still interested in the French international and Paris saint german are keeping close tabs provided Chelsea want to sell.
In ngolos current position, it’s difficult to suggest that he’s currently one of the best midfielders in the world Maybe then, but certainly not under this system and style.
Ngolo has become an ordinary player overnight Indeed far from his best.
By: Yaw Ampofo Jnr