Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says N’Golo Kante has proved he is far more than just a defensive midfielder and can play in a number of roles.
The Frenchman, widely acknowledged as the best holding midfielder in the world when he won back-to-back Premier League titles with Leicester in 2015-16 and then Chelsea the following season, has been plagued by injuries this term.
But he was on the bench for the pulsating 4-4 draw against Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday, and with Jorginho suspended, Ross Barkley injured and Mason Mount a doubt because of an ankle injury, he is likely to return to the starting line-up when the Blues take on Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Lampard says even if Kante is deployed alongside Mateo Kovacic in the rear midfield two, he has much more to offer than simply tackling, work-rate and winning possession.
“People talk about him very casually as the best defensive midfield player in the world. I don’t think that’s the full story,” Lampard explained.
“That’s not me criticising him – I’m actually doing the opposite. I think there’s much more to his game than that.
“I don’t even think at Leicester it was right to completely bracket him in that way. They had a particular way of playing, he suited it, he had the energy and could get around everywhere.
“A defensive midfield player in my mind is someone who sits in front of the back four or back three. I think he’s got much more than that.
“I think he’s shown all of those assets over the last four years for whoever he’s played – Leicester, Chelsea or France – and can give you more.
“That’s hopefully what we’ll be getting now he’s fit again.”