Gary Neville has discussed his surprise at the N’Golo Kante saga at Chelsea in recent months.
The pundit admits he was bemused by transfer rumours linking Kante with a possible departure from Stamford Bridge during the summer, with the France international long showing himself to be a world class performer in the Premier League.
Kante first caught the eye at Leicester City before continuing to perform at an extremely high standard at Chelsea, and Neville also suggested he was surprised at how long it has taken Blues boss Frank Lampard to field him in his best position.
Lampard, and his predecessor Maurizio Sarri, have been strangely reluctant to use Kante as Chelsea’s most deep-lying midfielder, with Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic sometimes preferred in that role, leaving Kante in a more advanced box-to-box role.
This seems a waste of a great player, but Neville thinks Lampard may finally have found a solution to getting his midfield balance right.
“Kante playing in that holding position in a three in midfield, it’s where we always thought he should play,” Neville said on his podcast.
“It’s a modern phenomenon to play a player in that position who is good on the ball. We’ve seen Xavi and Pirlo do it.
“But when you think of Fabinho, Fernandinho or Kante, that’s the classic player in that position.
“They read the danger, they break up attacks and they are a centre-backs dream.
“Playing Kante there would seem to be the logical conclusion in keeping him at the club.
“When I saw reports over the summer that Jorginho was going to leave, I wasn’t surprised. When I saw reports over the summer that Kante might leave, I was shocked.
“I thought, ‘Frank, he is not a player you want to lose’.
“He is a unique player and every player in that squad must love him. He does that job brilliantly.”