Kante proves why Makalele com­par­isons are right to open doors for Conte

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

AN­TO­NIO CONTE has brought the bravado to Stam­ford Bridge with three con­vinc­ing Pre­mier League wins out of four, but on the pitch it seems their sum­mer sign­ing, N’Golo Kante, has made the real dif­fer­ence.

Kante blocked, in­ter­cepted and tack­led his way to the Pre­mier League ti­tle last sea­son with Le­ices­ter be­fore his £32mil­lion (RM175.21m) trans­fer to Chelsea this sum­mer. Since then, the French­man has slipped in seam­lessly into his de­fen­sive role for Chelsea and can be likened to for­mer Blue, Claude Makelele, in his style of play and the job he does for his team.

Makelele made a name for him­self as a hold­ing mid­field player, devoutly dis­ci­plined in his po­si­tion to break up the play and pass the ball on. His suc­cess at Celta Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea saw the de­fen­sive role he played named the ‘Makelele role’.

Un­der Jose Mour­inho last sea­son, Chelsea lacked a com­mand­ing fig­ure in mid­field. Ne­manja Matic, the man who had done so well in cen­tral mid­field dur­ing Chelsea’s 2014/15 ti­tle win­ning sea­son, seemed lethar­gic, dis­in­ter­ested and lacked the sharp­ness it takes to play in a top Pre­mier League team.

Com­par­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween Matic and Kante last year, Matic made a measly 63 tack­les and 67 in­ter­cep­tions in 28 Pre­mier League matches in com­par­i­son to Kante’s 125 tack­les and 156 in­ter­cep­tions in 33 matches.

Not only is Kante an ace in his de­fen­sive du­ties, he plays in a key role in start­ing at­tacks by pick­ing the ball up from the de­fence and pass­ing it for­wards or side­ways, keep­ing the ball ro­tat­ing and forc­ing the op­po­si­tion to work harder off the ball as they at­tempt to shuf­fle from side to side.

Kante’s con­fi­dence on the ball also ex­tends to his drib­bling abil­ity and run­ning with the ball and this is where the new Chelsea man may even be able to sur­pass Makelele in terms of his value to the team.

The French­man gives his new man­ager many new op­tions through his raw fit­ness and abil­ity on the ball. Conte has been able to play John Terry as the heart of the Chelsea de­fence know­ing that Terry will not have to be dragged out into the mid­field to de­fend, then to try and slowly scarper back if the ball is played over the top.

The Ital­ian man­ager could also play a more tech­ni­cal at­tack minded player, such as Cesc Fabre­gas, along­side Kante if he feels the Blues need to grab a goal, like he did to guide Chelsea to a 2-1 win over Wat­ford this sea­son. Fabre­gas’ in­tro­duc­tion for Matic in the sec­ond half sparked Chelsea into gear and the Spa­niard’s sublime as­sist for Chelsea’s sec­ond goal helped them to se­cure all three points.

There is no doubt Kante’s sign­ing was a bril­liant move for Chelsea and the French­man could again be the key to suc­cess for an­other team in blue this sea­son. – The In­de­pen­dent

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