Chelsea coach to persist with Kante in unfamiliar role

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Chelsea FC signed the defensive midfielder in a £34m deal from Leicester and Kante won successive Premier League titles as the Blues finished top of the table in Antonio Conte's first season.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has confirmed that he will be unable to call upon his superstar Eden Hazard, when he names his side to face PAOK Salonika in the Europa League on Thursday evening.

And in their recent 3-1 defeat to Tottenham that ended their unbeaten run this season, Jorginho, who now holds Kante favoured role, was left exposed by the more dynamic and youthful Spurs midfield.

And the 18-year-old produced a superb performance as he helped Chelsea to a resounding 4-0 win over the Greek outfit, who were reduced to ten men early on.

This decision, however, has come at a cost as Kante's defensive contribution has fallen to 1.8 tackles per 90 minutes from 3.4 and 3.6 per 90 minutes in the last two years.

Responding in no uncertain terms, Sarri insisted that Jorginho was still the number one choice for the position and that Kante would not be slotting back into the position which saw him elevate through English football not so long ago.

"Unfortunately for him there is very, very good players in front of him".

But Sarri explained there is a time and place for Kante to attack.

Hudson-Odoi, in his first competitive start under Maurizio Sarri, looked particularly lively on the left flank.

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"The one thing about Kante is he is a very average player in this [advanced] position he's playing now".

When asked if Kante needs time to understand Sarri's demands, the Chelsea boss replied: "Maybe".

While this was Sarri's first loss as Chelsea manager, he admitted that the performance was "a disaster" - a word he used thrice during his post-match press conference. I had a meeting of ten minutes individual meetings.

Italian midfielder, Jorginho has been key to Sarri's system since his days at Napoli - and with good reason.

After the Spurs game, Sarri held one-on-one meetings with his players adding: "It's very hard for them, I think, to tell me why".

Sarri said: "I am anxious because 25 days ago he had a back injury".

"I want to find a space for him".

"I talked to them player by player".