N’GOLO Kante is Maurizio Sarri’s biggest conundrum at Chelsea.
After the Italian was scathing in his criticism of the midfielder in the humbling at Spurs, Kante needed just four minutes to fire his own emphatic message at the boss.
Getty – Contributor6 N'Golo Kante has emerged as a fan favourite since he joined the club in 2016
Robbing the ball from Jean Michael Seri in Fulham’s half, he drove forward, played a pass into Pedro who made no mistake in firing the home side ahead.
Claudio Ranieri was furious on the touchline, he knew that as soon as Kante won that tackle there was only one inevitable outcome.
Yet Chelsea’s prodigal son, a massive fan favourite who is the club’s highest paid player on £300,000-a-week, is still learning to adapt to a new role in Sarri’s possession-based system.
Kante is no longer the main man marshalling the midfield, that job has been handed over to Jorginho who bellowed instructions to his fellow central midfielders throughout the scrappy win.
AFP or licensors6 Maurizio Sarri's side have nine wins from 14 Premier League games this season
He is being asked to play in a more advanced role, something that has already come back to bite Sarri on the backside.
Against Tottenham and Arsenal, it was worrying how easy it was at times to break through Chelsea’s midfield.
And the warning signs were there again after just 20 seconds into the contest when Cyrus Christie was gifted acres to run into before dragging his effort straight at the keeper.
On other occasions he would venture forward on the right side of midfield but the lack of creative spark in his game would stifle the attack.
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AFP or llicensors AFP or Licensors6 N'Golo Kante made the assist for Pedro's opener
At one point he picked up the ball in a wonderful position around 35-yards from goal but turned and passed it back to Cesar Azpilicueta.
It was met by loud audible groans from the home support who were urging him to play the ball back into the box.
In the second half Kante struggled to stamp his authority on the contest and dropped further back as Fulham pressed for an equaliser.
So the question remains on how Sarri can still get the best out of a man who was crucial in France’s World Cup win over the summer.
Getty Images – Getty6 Pedro gave Maurizio Sarri's side the lead after just four minutes at Stamford Bridge