Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has named Mateo Kovacic and Ethan Ampadu as reliable replacements for Cesc Fabregas.
Following the Blues’ mauling of hopeless Huddersfield Town at the hands of Eden Hazard and Juventus loanee Gonzalo Higuain on Saturday, Sarri revealed who he considers as replacements for Fabregas, who left for Monaco in January.
Can Kovacic fill in for Fabregas? Four key things to know…
- After reaching the World Cup final in the summer, Mateo Kovacic moved to Chelsea on loan from Real Madrid at the start of the season.
- The 24-year-old has started 12 Premier League games this season and has a 92.3% pass accuracy – slightly better than Fabregas on 86.5% when he left.
- Kovacic still has a way to go to reach the level of form that Fabregas found in the Premier League.
- Fabregas provided 12 assists in Chelsea’s title winning team in 2016-17 – Kovacic has made only two in 22 appearances this term.
“I have to try with our own players,” he said (via Football London). “So, I think Mateo Kovacic could be a very good option. A very good option, then we need to recover completely Ruben Loftus-Cheek, after his back problem.
“Then, we can play sometimes with Kovacic as a central midfielder and then Jorginho will be able to rest. We are trying in training with two players; the first is Ethan Ampadu and the second is Kovacic.
“It may be that for the characteristics, Kovacic is more suitable for this team.”
“As you know, Ampadu is more defensive. Kovacic is really close to Jorginho in moving the ball really fast at one-touch. In the future, I think he will be able to do this position well,” added Sarri.
Chelsea gave themselves some breathing space in the table with their 5-0 rout over Huddersfield on Saturday. Their victory keeps them in the top four, two points ahead of Manchester United.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel: sqwk.at/Squawka-Sub
The Blues could lose their place next week, however, when they face a romping Manchester City side at the Etihad – United play struggling Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Can Kante play in Jorginho’s role?
Jorginho followed his mentor to Stamford Bridge in the summer and N’Golo Kante has had to move out of the position he made is own over the years. Concern over this swiftly abated as Chelsea enjoyed a great start to the campaign, but the Blues’ momentum tailed off over the festive period and now the Londoners are seriously at risk of losing their place in the top four as a resurgent Manchester United snap at their heels in fifth place.
Jorginho has had to shoulder a substantial portion of the blame for Chelsea’s slump and pressure is mounting on Sarri to restore Kante, who is widely considered to be the best defensive midfielder in the world, to his holding role in the midfield.
When asked about their 5-0 win Sarri resolutely defended his, and Jorginho’s, position.
“Could Kante play in the Jorginho role? Only 20 minutes if I have to defend a result,” he said.
“It depends upon what you want from Jorginho. If Jorginho you want the last pass, he has not adapted.
“Jorginho is very able to move the ball, to build up the action, but Jorginho usually plays at 40 metres from the opposition goal, so it’s impossible for him to make the last pass.”