Chelsea’s Pre-Season has officially commenced and we can now take a look and see what this Chelsea side has to offer in the build up to the new Premier League Season. Things may have gone a bit sour in their 2 – 0 defeat to a fitter Rapid Vienna side in Austria, but fortunately that wasn’t Chelsea highlight for the day. Leicester City star N’Golo Kanté has signed for the Blues which represents a significant step forward in making Chelsea great again. What can Chelsea look forward to with their new midfield man?
The rumor mill was awash with reports of Kanté being targeted by Chelsea and things didn’t take long to materialize. Following France’s disappointing Euro 2016 final defeat to Portugal, no more than a week later, negotiations came to a fruitful end for Antonio Conte and his team. On Saturday, July 16th Kanté became a Chelsea player and, in the French international, Chelsea has acquired a player with a work rate like no other which will add some much needed quality to the squad.
“N’Golo Kanté is a good player. He has good technique, fantastic stamina and I like this type of player.”
Conte uttered the above sentiments and it comes as no surprise that he favors a player like N’Golo. The demands he places on his players to close down opponents and expel a ton of energy every game virtually guaranteed that the existing options of Cesc Fàbregas, Nemanja Matić and John Obi Mikel were getting company sooner rather than later.
At times last season, to put it mildly, it was either one problem or the other for the Chelsea midfield. Starting Fàbregas alongside Matic or Mikel provided the team with more creativity going forward with defensive solidity shifted to the back burner. It was vice versa whenever Mikel and Matić played together with Chelsea looking more like a chest of drawers than anything else. Chelsea have surely acquired a player with an engine capable of doing the work of two men almost. This will undoubtedly ease pressure on the other midfielders as Kanté runs around getting his foot to every ball unlike an erratic Ramires of yesteryear. Chelsea may have been missing the Brazilian’s industry for half a season but have now gotten a proper upgrade. The likes of Fàbregas will soon be allowed to conduct proceedings knowing that he has one of the best insurance policies by his side.
It would be remiss to say there aren’t any causes for concern, though. While Kanté may cover every blade of grass on the pitch, he often did it without the ball at Leicester City. Operating with the majority of possession, which is to be expected at Chelsea in the Premier League, will present a new dynamic, come next season. How effective will he be against teams camped in their half for a match? His snippet in the Euros against Romania provided a precursor to such events but provides little insight to how he’ll adjust in the long run. However, Conte was quick to mention Kanté’s good technique which has been there for all to see this past season. Kanté is a box to box midfielder by nature and isn’t shy to dribble out of trouble or into the final and pick a pass when able. Honing that skill and playing a relatively bigger role in the final third compared to his time in Leiceter may just be the difference between Kanté becoming a good player and a “Bison” for Chelsea.
In the wake of the buzzing transfer fever in England, Chelsea have started their transfer activity with a bang. Kanté provides an excellent solution to the problem of a lack of cover in the center of the park and the midfield now has the energy it has been crying out for. The extra critical may question his ability to impact games where Chelsea are dominant; others may wonder how he would eventually stack up against European giants should Chelsea qualify for the Champions League but only time will tell. Between now and deadline day, there are still a significant repairs to be done at Stamford bridge, especially to the horrid defense Kanté is tasked with protecting, but Chelsea can finally say there is one less glaring problem to worry about this summer and years to come.