Is making N'Golo Kante a more attacking midfielder really a good idea?

Maurizio Sarri hasn’t had much time to shape his Chelsea side; but Saturday’s opening match of the season against Huddersfield provided some clues about his blueprint.

The expected 4-3-3 was on show and Ross Barkley got the nod in midfield; but the biggest surprise was in the alteration of N’Golo Kante’s role.

New signing Jorginho was fielded at the back of midfield, which allowed Kante more freedom to bomb forward. That was rewarded with a goal, Chelsea’s first of the league season.

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 11: Jorginho of Chelsea gestures during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Chelsea at the John Smith’s Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Huddersfield, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

The Pros

There is logic in the switch. Against the so-called ‘lesser’ teams, Chelsea will dominate possession and Sarri’s will demand that leads to many goalscoring chances.

The more technical Jorginho at the base generates greater creativity from deep. Sarri will also demand Chelsea press intensely and Kante’s energy is well suited to that.

Jorginho and Kante may rotate being the deeper midfielder game-by-game; depending on the strengths of the opposition.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JULY 15: N’Golo Kante of France poses with the Champions World Cup trophy after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Michael Regan – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The Cons

However, we must ask whether it’s really worth moving one of the world’s elite holding midfielders out of position.

Having Kante as a safety blanket in front of a new-look defence could prove invaluable.

Also, while Kante has undoubtedly improved in possession in the past 12 months, he still doesn’t have enough quality to operate in an attacking midfield role for a club of such grand ambitions.

A permanent switch of role has more downsides than positives and it would be Sarri’s first major error of judgement if he persists with it throughout the season.

Sam Preston a senior football writer for the Boot Room and United in Focus. He is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist with five years of professional experience writing digital content. He studied with the Press Association and also has a 2:1 Law with French Law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Burnley, Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.