N’Golo Kane “can become like a Michael Essien” for Chelsea, says Scott Minto, with the midfielder operating in a more advanced role this season.
The World Cup winner has forged his reputation in a holding post, with his destructive qualities helping Leicester and those at Stamford Bridge to Premier League title glory.
Maurizio Sarri has, however, opted to free Kante from those shackles after investing heavily in Italy international Jorginho over the summer.
Chelsea are now favouring a different approach and a former Blues star believes a dominant force in the middle of the park can be created, with another player in the Essien mould emerging.
“Kante for me is the best defensive midfielder in the world in that destructive role, stopping teams counter-attacking, trying to win the ball back and protecting the back four. No-one can deny that Kante is, if not one of the best, the very best at it. But that's not what Sarri is trying to do in terms of his team.
“I actually think Kante, if you look at how he played when he played for Leicester, he wasn't just a defensive midfielder. He went everywhere. If you look at the heat maps, he was that cover-every-blade-of-grass kind of player. He wasn't sitting in front of the back four and protecting them. That's what he did when he went to Chelsea.
“I do think he's got more to his game. I don't think we've seen the best of him in this role but I do think he can become like a Michael Essien, who can be fantastic in that role but also going forward, using his energy as a box-to-box midfielder.”
While tipping Kante to remain a vital cog in the Chelsea machine, Minto has suggested that Sarri has issues to address at the back, with David Luiz putting in another forgettable display in a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham.
“I think in the back three when Chelsea won the title, he was the central of those three,” Minto said of the Brazil international.
“I've always said Luiz is probably the best ball-playing centre-half in world football but I wouldn't even put him in the top 20 for defending centre-halves and that's basically what you want a centre-half to do.
“I thought he should have taken David Luiz off, seeing what type of form he was in.
“It's going to be very interesting to see whether David Luiz can play in a four. He needs to make that decision quickly and David Luiz needs a rocket up his backside because if he carries on playing like that... he cannot play like that.
“After 10 or 15 minutes, there should have been a switch - either move Kante in front of the back four or take David Luiz off because he was a liability. There are definitely question marks over Luiz in a back four. Can he defend? The jury is still very much out.”