N'Golo Kante gets the hang of new Blues role

Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has sometimes looked out of sorts in his different position this season, but he showed signs of getting to grips with it, scoring the winner at Crystal Palace with a well-timed run and cool finish.
Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has sometimes looked out of sorts in his different position this season, but he showed signs of getting to grips with it, scoring the winner at Crystal Palace with a well-timed run and cool finish.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • N'Golo Kante insists that he is finally growing into his new role in Chelsea's midfield as the France star prepares for today's English Premier League home clash with Southampton.

He earned a reputation as the world's best defensive midfielder after playing a key role in Chelsea and Leicester's Premier League title triumphs, as well as France's World Cup victory. But the 27-year-old has had to adapt to a change of position this season under new manager Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri, who replaced fellow Italian Antonio Conte in the close season, brought Jorginho with him from Napoli to play the pivotal midfield role in front of the defence that used to be Kante's domain.

Sarri believes Jorginho's superior passing makes him more suited to launching Chelsea's attacks than Kante, who is now operating in a slightly more advanced role on the right side of midfield.

Kante has sometimes looked out of sorts in his different position this season, but he showed signs of getting to grips with it on Sunday, scoring the winner at Crystal Palace with a well-timed run and cool finish.

"This role is something I am enjoying and in a game I try to make that run sometimes," he said.

"David (Luiz) gave me a good ball and I am happy to score with my left foot and give something to the team."

Away wins at Watford and Palace made it a happy Christmas for the Blues. But, still trailing leaders Liverpool by 11 points, their title ambitions have been put on the back-burner as they focus on securing a place in the Champions League via a top-four finish.

They could be hampered by fitness problems, with Olivier Giroud, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi all doubtful.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHELSEA V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Kante gets the hang of new Blues role'. Print Edition | Subscribe