Gary Neville says N'Golo Kante is a player Frank Lampard wouldn't want to lose
Gary Neville said N’Golo Kante should have played in a deeper role sooner and warned Frank Lampard about potentially losing “a centre-back’s dream”.
Even when all the Chelsea stars played really well in their 3-0 win against Burnley, the 29-year-old was still among the few who really stood out.
Managing two tackles, three interceptions and four ball recoveries at Turf Moor, Kante flourished in the holding midfield role.
Having two creative, attacking midfielders in Mason Mount and Kai Havertz alongside him in midfield certainly helped Kante focus on defending rather than having to play the box-to-box midfield role when he pairs up with Jorginho.
Neville argued that, despite the trend of deep-lying play-makers (or regista), ball-winners like Kante are the ideal type of holding midfielders from a defender’s perspective.
Speaking on his podcast on Sky Sports, Neville said: “Kante playing in that holding position in a three in midfield, it’s where we always thought he should play.
“It’s a modern phenomenon to play a player in that position who is good on the ball. We’ve seen Xavi and Pirlo do it.
“But when you think of Fabinho, Fernandinho or Kante, that’s the classic player in that position.
“They read the danger, they break up attacks and they are a centre-backs’ dream.
“Playing Kante there would seem to be the logical conclusion in keeping him at the club.”
The former Manchester United full-back also implied that, unlike Jorginho, Kante is a player Lampard would want to keep.
“When I saw reports over the summer that Jorginho was going to leave, I wasn’t surprised. When I saw reports over the summer that Kante might leave, I was shocked.
“I thought, ‘Frank, he is not a player you want to lose’.
“He is a unique player and every player in that squad must love him. He does that job brilliantly.”
Unfortunately for Lampard, Kante is arguably the only true defensive-minded midfielder he currently has at his disposal, and it could be a problem if he wants to keep using 4-3-3, with two attacking N0.8s, as his main system.
Gilmour, who remains out due to a knee injury, should be an option once he recovers.
While recalling Ethan Ampadu in January could be on the cards since Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder previously said that Lampard considers the Wales international as a holding midfielder.