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Makélélé: It’s time to start calling it ‘the Kanté position’

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Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A few lovely quotes that we missed earlier this week from Chelsea and world football icon Claude Makélélé, who’s one of the very few players in the history of the game to lend their name to a playing position on the pitch. The Makélélé position is known by many other, less accurate names, too (anchor-man, water-carrier, etc) but none of those convey the requirements of the role as accurately as the eponymous label.

That said, football is constantly evolving, and the Makélélé position itself may be too limited, too one-dimensional these days. The new breed of defensive midfielders are expected to contribute just about everywhere on the pitch. Box-to-box, touchline-to-touchline, in and out of possession, with or without the ball, Makélélés are evolving into something far more dynamic.

Maka himself has recognized this (he’s a coach and assistant of no small pedigree, after all) and has officially passed the baton to Kanté.

“And I am glad. People talk about the Makelele position, but I am old and it’s time everybody called it the Kante position. N’Golo deserves that.”

Of course, with Conte, the work never stops. There’s always room for improvement and for Kanté, that’s in attack ... as long as those don’t come at the expense of his defensive contributions. Knowing when to do what on the pitch is a mental attribute, and Makélélé paid tribute to his compatriot in that regard.

“Every time I watch N’Golo Kante, I see so much desire in him, so much focus and so much determination to make himself a better player with every game. He was the heartbeat of the Leicester team, but it was also like taking a bulldog for a walk – you had to keep pulling him back because he had so much energy.”

“Now N’Golo has added intelligence. He appreciates the position of his team-mates more and how to play in a more sophisticated system where it’s not all about running and tackling, but the decisions he makes.”

“Some players are meant to be superstars, but some – like N’Golo and myself – must be happy making other people look good.”

“Next season we will see him become even better because he will have the challenge of the Champions League. He is also part of a fantastic generation of young players coming through for France, which will also see him develop.”

-Claude Makélélé; source: FWA awards via Chelsea FC

So say we all.