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Mario Melchiot’s Chelsea verdict: Under-fire Maurizio Sarri told to stop being stubborn with N’Golo Kante

FINAL STRAW

Former Blues star is baffled why the Italian coach keeps playing ‘the world’s best holding midfielder’ out of position

Maurizio Sarri has been urged stop being stubborn with his ‘Sarriball’ tactics and start playing N’Golo Kante in his best position.

Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot says the midfielder would have made a huge difference in his natural holding role against Manchester City, and perhaps would have prevented the Blues’ 6-0 mauling at the Etihad Stadium.

N’Golo Kante has endured a frustrating season for Chelsea

N’Golo Kante has endured a frustrating season for Chelsea

Kante earned a reputation as one of the world’s best defensive midfielders after winning back-to-back Premier League titles with Leicester City and Chelsea as well as the World Cup with France.

But Sarri had other ideas when he was appointed at Stamford Bridge in the summer…

Fans have been baffled by the boss’ decision to move Kante into a wider, more attacking position and sign his former Napoli lynchpin Jorginho to fill the holding role.

It appeared to work well early in the season, with Chelsea starting the campaign by going 18 games unbeaten, but it has fallen apart in recent months, with the team’s inconsistent form and defensive issues seeing them drop out of the top four.

Sarri is really struggling at Chelsea at the moment

Sarri is really struggling at Chelsea at the moment

And Melchiot insists it’s time Sarri conceded he was wrong and started playing Kante where he has the biggest impact.

“Kante is arguably one of the best holding midfielders in the world,” the former centre-back told Monday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“He wasn’t part of France’s World Cup-winning team just by jogging along, he was a vital player in that team.

“He came from Leicester to Chelsea because he did his job really well, but now he’s playing in a different role and every time he gets on the ball you’re looking at him to do something creatively…

“But that’s not his game! You don’t want him to play him like that.

“It’s like Chelsea are sometimes playing with a man less, because creativity is not his strength.

Jorginho has taken Kante’s place as Chelsea’s midfield lynchpin, but he has been criticised for his performances

Jorginho has taken Kante’s place as Chelsea’s midfield lynchpin, but he has been criticised for his performances

“I know he’s scored a few goals this season, but look at the stuff he’s doing when he gets the ball. Sometimes he turns back when he really needs to take the ball up the field and take someone on.

“That’s what the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, guys who change the game going forward, do. But Kante is the kind of player who changes the game in the centre, winning the ball back and making sure the team is strong.

“With Jorginho playing in that role, with the ball he looks OK, but what does he do when he hasn’t got the ball? How does he get a grip on the game?

“I’m not sure he is the man who, like Kante, can put his foot in the game and say, ‘come on guys, we’re going to win this’.”

On the 6-0 humiliation at Man City, Melchiot added: “The game was over after 20 minutes, it was incredible.

“I felt Chelsea were struggling as soon as they came out.

“I was watching a game where, at 4-0 down, the players were not ever trying to get back into the game and at half-time the coach doesn’t come up with the solution.

“For me, that’s bad.”

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