Maurizio Sarri was heavily criticised for starting the World Cup winner in a more advance midfield role last season, instead picking Jorginho to play the number six position.
But Zola insists Kante was never truly a holding midfield player, even during Leicester's Premier League title run in 2015/16.
"There are two reasons for that," he told BeINSports.
"The main reason is that in the way Sarri plays, the sitting midfielder, the number six, is the player that plays the most balls in the whole team.
"Normally Jorginho, when he was at Napoli and also last year, makes between 140 and 160 touches, sometimes even more. So he wants somebody that confident in getting the ball and playing it, not afraid to play and be influential in the game. That is the first reason."
Zola continued: "The second reason is that Kante is not a sitting midfielder.
"Although he has always played in a midfield two, at Leicester and in his first two years at Chelsea, at Leicester he was playing with Drinkwater, who was the sitting one and Kante was moving around. He was free to go sideways, backwards, whatever he wanted.
"And it was the same at Chelsea when Matic was the sitting one and Kante was doing the same job. We spoke with Kante about this and he was very happy to play the position because he liked the position."