Maurizio Sarri is trying to “phase out” N’Golo Kante at Chelsea, according to Jermaine Jenas.
Kante has not missed a minute of Premier League football this season, suggesting that Chelsea’s highest-paid player is still as important as ever.
But the summer arrival of Jorginho, a midfielder crucial to Sarri’s style, has seen Kante pushed out wide to accommodate him.
Despite winning the Premier League title in two of his three full seasons in England, Kante is playing second midfield fiddle for the first time, and Jenas feels he could be surplus to Sarri’s requirements soon.
“The longer Maurizio Sarri is at Chelsea, something tells me that at some point he will try to phase out N’Golo Kante,” he told the Daily Mail.
“That sounds crazy. It is crazy. It makes no sense to get rid of the best central midfielder on the planet. But the fact is Sarri just does not see Kante in his system.
“He is making Kante play in a different way to what made him the best in the world. Can you imagine Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira being told to change positions? Not in a million years.
“Keane didn’t play on the right of a three, and nor did Vieira. They are the generals. What Sarri is saying to Kante is that you are not the general. Jorginho is my general. That is a bit of a slap in the face.
“Kante could kick off but he is not going to do that. He is a top pro and wants to play for Chelsea. That is the right thing to do. But it does mean you are probably going to get a few more average Kante performances. You are getting a diluted performance.
“There are now better players in that position. Those two midfielders in front of Jorginho are attack-minded players. Ross Barkley will do a better job there. Willian will do a better job there. Sarri is just trying to fit him in now. Sarri will be waiting to bring in the person he wants. That is absolute madness. Kante is a player any team in Europe would have – I would beg Tottenham to take him on Sunday!
“In fairness to Sarri, it has worked so far. It was not long ago we were lauding Jorginho. Look how good he is on the ball. Look how many passes he makes. There are certain games, though, where Sarri has to adjust his thinking.
“It is slightly naive to think Jorginho can handle the physical onslaughts of the best Premier League teams on his own. Tottenham did that and he couldn’t.
“Kante relishes that battle and is the best in the world at it. So why not use him?”