Defensive midfield is very important to any team in any league and a strong partnership is pivotal in winning football matches. Dominant teams always possess elite midfielders capable of running the show from the middle of the park.
In N’Golo Kante, Chelsea have a player who is amongst the best in the world but even he cannot run the midfield on his own. There are few midfielders in world football, who can offer their team the same level of work-rate, dynamism and defensive cover in the middle of the park. Kante falls in that elite category as the diminutive Frenchman is one of the best defensive midfielders across Europe.
As mentioned above, Kante cannot run the entire pitch all alone and the question remains as to who lines up alongside him. Antonio Conte signed Tiemoue Bakayoko last summer from AS Monaco but the midfield panzer failed to live up to the billing. The French powerhouse’s performances have been nothing but very disappointing at Stamford Bridge.
With Bakayoko failing to fit alongside Kante, the Blues must take a dip in the market to sign a proper box-to-box midfielder, with Cesc Fabregas feeling his legs.
That being said, here are three ideal midfield partners for Kante who Chelsea can target in summer.
Jean-Michael Seri (OGC Nice)
The Ivorian midfielder was the influential player at Nice as they emerged as the surprise package of Ligue 1 last year. However, Seri’s performances haven’t quite been up to the standards of last season but he has still managed to grab a lot of eyeballs.
Excellent at shielding the defence, the £35m-rated Seri is also a tough and nimble dribbler. He uses the low centre of gravity to his advantage and is quick on the turn. His passing is crisp and simple, while his long-balls are accurate.
The 26-year-old does a very good job in piercing the defensive lines and will be an ideal player to partner Kante at Chelsea.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Yaya Toure is soon to be out of contract at Manchester City and the veteran midfielder has already confirmed that he will leave the club.
Chelsea must go for Toure after he leaves City. The Ivorian’s passing game and discipline has dipped over the last couple of years but he can be a valuable signing for the Blues.
Toure was a devastating presence in his early years and his combination of physicality and dribbling ability would seemingly suit a two-man midfield properly. He might not have the legs to run continuously anymore but he can do the job on a short-term basis.
Radja Nainggolan (AS Roma)
Nainggolan’s performances for AS Roma have been solid, offering both defensive and offensively stability.
The Belgian is not a one-paced midfielder but is an expert passer of the ball who does not possess the speed beat a defender or carry the ball from defence to attack. He has a superb work-rate, while also being tenacious in everything he does.
Nainggolan has the frame and athleticism to compete in the midfield and his offensive capabilities could partner Kanté’s defensive dominance very well.