N’Golo Kante became one of the world’s highest paid footballers last week by signing a new long-term contract with Chelsea worth a cool £290,000 a week.
The Blues have rewarded the indefatigable French midfielder, who arrived at Stamford Bridge shortly after winning the Premier League title with Leicester City in 2016, for his consistently excellent performances over the past two-and-a-half seasons.
Kante, who helped France win the World Cup in Russia earlier this year, is widely regarded as the world’s best holding midfielder at present and was on Paris Saint-Germain’s radar until he put pen to paper on this new deal.
However, Kante’s first match since signing his new contract was one he’ll want to forget in a hurry.
Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the season after being outplayed and outfought by Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, who sealed a convincing 3-1 victory at Wembley.
Kante, deployed on the right-hand side of Chelsea’s midfield three, was unable to make a significant impact over the course of the 90 minutes on this occasion.
The 27-year-old was handed a 5.5 rating by the Daily Mail, who added: “Never stopped but overwhelmed in midfield by Tottenham’s energy and desire.”
Kante is the subject of Alan Shearer’s latest column for The Sun - and the Match of the Day pundit has spoken the truth about the midfielder following his performance against Spurs.
Shearer cannot believe that Kante is being played out of position by Maurizio Sarri and feels this was one of the main reasons why the Blues were beaten by Spurs on Saturday night.
The Newcastle United legend believes Sarri’s decision to play Jorginho in the holding midfield position, instead of Kante, will continue to cost Chelsea because of the knock-on effect it has on the team’s defenders like David Luiz.
“Why Maurizio Sarri is not playing N’Golo Kante in front of his back four baffles me,” Shearer began.
“Without the little French dynamo in that hole, tidying up, tracking runners, it leaves the Chelsea central defenders David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger massively exposed — as Spurs showed to such devastating effect on Saturday night.
“Leicester City won the league with Wes Morgan and Robert Huth as their centre-half pairing. Decent defenders but neither are particularly quick.
“But their deficiencies were expertly covered up by Kante — the best defensive midfielder in the world bar none. Jorginho is not in the same class.”
He continued: “Kante is wasted playing where he did against Spurs, higher up the park and to the right. He is not an attacking midfielder.
“I know Sarri worked with Jorginho at Napoli and trusts him in that holding position but he had a poor night at Wembley.
“And, as a result, Luiz also had a shocker. He was given the runaround by the brilliant movement of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min.
“He was taken to places on the pitch he didn’t want to go.
“But that will happen to him if he is not given proper protection in front of him.
“That has been apparent to me for a long time.”
Shearer believes Chelsea could have got something out of Saturday’s game had Sarri deployed Kante in his natural position - an assessment that many Blues fans will agree with.
“Chelsea and Luiz can be grateful it was only three,” he added.
“But with Kante in his natural home it could have been a very different story.”