N’Golo Kanté is still injured: can Chelsea and the Blues still count on him?


A new season starting is a new beginning. Some hope that the summer will not have clipped their wings and that the momentum of spring will not be wiped out when it comes time to resume competition. Others dream that the summer swell erases a painful past, literally or figuratively. N’Golo Kanté is obviously to be placed in the second category. It is even a textbook case.

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Sunday at the heart of a high-flying Chelsea – Tottenham, N’Golo Kanté left his partners before the end of the game (85th). The worst possible start to the season, especially since it will only really restart in a month for the French international (53 caps), affected in the ischio of the right thigh and therefore out for the next three to four weeks. A tile for the Blues, of course.

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They know what they can expect from the former Caen midfielder, at the end of his contract next June. We need only look back to his Champions League semis and finals during the Londoners’ victorious campaign in 2021. But Thomas Tuchel and the new Chelsea board also know what may possibly await them, while the player is regularly on the side, for glitches of all kinds.

One out of three matches missed

For four years, the electric battery lined with a Kanté magnet has not completed a full season. Rather anecdotal in 2018/2019, his absences have doubled since the end of this first post-World Cup exercise. On average, the Frenchman misses more or less one game in three at Chelsea. Which is a lot and which, when considering a contract extension, is an obstacle. At 18 million euros a year – his current salary – in any case.

Didier Deschamps does not have these contractual problems. But the coach of the France team is no less annoyed with his cornerstone of the midfield. The World Cup is in three months. During the World Cup in Russia, Kanté formed an exceptional pair with Paul Pogba, the two players complementing each other perfectly and balancing the blue building.

Koundé, Kanté and Nkunku doubtful after the defeat of the Blues

Credit: Getty Images

Currently, the coach of the Blues is deprived of his two men, whom he could not align together since the end of the last Euro. When it’s not one, it’s the other. And it’s just as boring. When he is there, Pogba shines most often. When he is there, Kanté is less implacable than he was. His successive periods of stoppage are undoubtedly not unrelated to this observation. Since July 15, 2018, the former Leicester has only worn the blue jersey 22 times. During the last gathering, at four matches, he played against Denmark (1-2). And then knee pain sent him on vacation.

This is boring to say the least as DD changed tack for almost a year, with a 3-4-3 whose the Blues are still learning the subtleties and which, on paper, is not too badly cut for NG. Fortunately, Aurélien Tchouaneni has revealed himself. A lesser evil.

Kanté will probably be very fair for the back-to-school meetings, in the League of Nations against Austria (September 22) and Denmark (September 25). Two matches which will also be the last before France – Australia on November 22, opening of the World Cup for the Blues. France – Australia like four years ago, when he was radiant. Time passes. And no one has yet succeeded in reassembling it.

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