Frank Lampard claims the only ‘problem’ he had with N’Golo Kante at Chelsea was trying to stop the midfielder from running too much in training.
Lampard spent 18 months working with Kante at Chelsea before he was sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel at the end of January.
Kante struggled with a hamstring injury during Lampard’s first season at Stamford Bridge but since recovering, the World Cup winner has once again established himself as an integral part of Chelsea’s midfield.
Lampard has described Kante’s contribution as ‘priceless’ and admits the only downside to managing the 30-year-old is having to be strict with how much effort he puts in during training sessions.
‘When I arrived at Chelsea he’d been off the back of playing so regularly for a few seasons because everyone relies on him so much, he’d had an injury that took him into my first season, we missed him a lot,’ Lampard told BBC Sport.
‘You seriously miss N’Golo in big games because he’s a big-game player. Nobody will want to play against him because of the attributes he’s got.
‘In those big games, finals, tournament football, players like N’Golo are just priceless.
‘The main reason why he’s so good that he’s the best in the world at being a destructor. When I say destructor I’m talking about winning the ball back. To win the ball back with his anticipation, having the speed to get tight and close distances, his main attribute for me is destruction, leaving areas to win balls back.
‘An old-fashioned holding midfield player you’d say would sit in front of the back four, Makelele did it years ago for Chelsea so well.
‘But he has so much more to his game. When you see the distances he closes to get in front of people, that acceleration and speed, that is something special to him, it’s very unique.
‘I got asked it a lot [about playing him as a strict defensive midfielder], my feeling was that he had so many attributes that were more than just that, I was holding him back by saying, ‘please just sit there’.
‘You have to allow N’Golo to travel with the ball, he can find passes I think people don’t give him credit for, his close control in tight areas is fantastic as well.
‘He can do multiple jobs at the same time. He makes people around him better, he helps everybody.
‘He’s exactly how you’d expect from the outside, nothing’s an act, he’s very humble, very quiet, he doesn’t want loads of conversation.
‘The problem I found with him more than anything was trying to hold him back in training because every day you train and you let him off the leash in an opposed session he does that, and you have to try to pull him back because he can just put that output into anything he does.
‘He’s incredible, he’s exactly what you see from the outside.’