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Gianfranco Zola defends Maurizio Sarri's use of N'Golo Kante at Chelsea

Zola defends Sarri's use of Kante
© Reuters
Gianfranco Zola defends Maurizio Sarri's decision to use N'Golo Kante in a more advanced midfield role at Chelsea last season.

Gianfranco Zola has spoken out in defence of Maurizio Sarri's decision to use N'Golo Kante in a more advanced midfield role at Chelsea last season.

The French midfielder, coming off the back of winning the World Cup, was moved into a more advanced midfield role to accommodate new signing Jorginho, who Sarri had brought with him from Napoli.

Many supporters felt that this use of Jorginho as a holding midfielder precluded Chelsea from moving the ball quickly up the pitch and starved Kante of his best attributes, which often culminated in dull displays during which the Blues dominated possession but not their opponents.

Speaking to beIN Sports, Zola, who was Sarri's assistant at Stamford Bridge, explained the reasons behind the tactical decision.

"There are two reasons for that. The main reason is that in the way Sarri plays, the sitting midfielder (the number six) plays the most balls in the whole team," he said.

"Normally on average if Jorginho - when he was in Napoli and also last year - touches between 140 and 160 balls. Sometimes even more.

"So, he wants somebody that is confident in getting the ball and playing because he is very much influential in this game."

Sarri and Zola only spent one year at Stamford Bridge, finishing third in the table and winning the Europa League, before the former returned to Italy to manage Juventus.

Chelsea endured a nightmarish start to life under new manager Frank Lampard as they were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

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Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri on the touchline against Slavia Prague in the Europa League on April 11, 2019.
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