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“Our Van Dijk” – Thomas Tuchel makes rues the unavailability of key Chelsea star

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Thomas Tuchel rues the fact that Chelsea star N'Golo Kante is injury prone.

Thomas Tuchel rues the fact that Chelsea star N’Golo Kante is injury prone

Speaking in a press conference after Chelsea drew against Leicester City as quoted by Football.London, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has rued the fact that his team’s most important player N’Golo Kante has played only ‘40%’ of the club’s games due to injury troubles.

Chelsea limped their way to a 1-1 draw against Leicester City last night with Marcos Alonso getting on the scoresheet. It was far from an impressive performance but Tuchel’s men got the one point that was required to help them secure a top-three finish in the Premier League.

Kante started the game against Brendan Rodgers’s side after weeks of being sidelined by injury and restricted to cameo appearances, managing to play 72 minutes. The French midfielder has had a very stop-start couple of seasons and his performances have also dipped occasionally this campaign due to a lack of rhythm.

Thomas Tuchel rues the fact that Chelsea star N'Golo Kante is injury prone.
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has been laid low with injury struggles

Speaking about the player Tuchel calls ‘Chelsea’s Van Dijk’ to underline his significance to the team, the German boss said that the absence of his key man affects the team’s performance on the pitch. Given how our form has fallen away in recent months, it is no surprise.

“I think he is our key, key, key player, but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch. He plays only 40% of the games then it is maybe a miracle that we arrive in third place. He is our Mo Salah, he is our Van Dijk, he is our De Bruyne. He is simply that player, he is our Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.”

Kante has often been a difference-maker for the Blues and Tuchel recognizes that. The Frenchman is not getting any younger and we might need to plan for life without him sooner or later.

“He is that guy who makes the difference, and if you only have him for 40%, then it is a huge problem. Given that percentage, it is maybe a miracle that he produces results. It puts everything into perspective as I saw Liverpool without Van Dijk last season, and they struggled heavily. You see the difference. N’Golo is our key player, and we need him on the pitch.”

Fitness troubles?

Since joining the Blues from the Foxes in 2016, it’s fair to say that N’Golo Kante has established himself as a Stamford Bridge legend. One of the best players in the world, he has played a key role in Chelsea and France’s triumphs in recent years.

After years and years of consistent performances, age and injuries seem to finally be catching up with the 31-year-old and his performances have not been up to the mark this season. Despite his injury troubles, the Frenchman has managed 41 appearances but only around half of them have been as a starter.

Thomas Tuchel rues the fact that Chelsea star N'Golo Kante is injury prone. (imago Images)
N’Golo Kante when fit is an absolute beast(imago Images)

The French superstar’s contract with the Blues expires next summer and we have a decision to make. While keeping Kante seems like a no-brainer at face value, his injury record and fitness struggles could force the Blues to rethink their decision.

When fit, the veteran is an absolute beast. However, such performances have been few and far between due to his struggles. If the Blues decide to keep him, it will come as no surprise but they will be hoping that the 31-year-old can somehow overcome his injury troubles and become the player he once was.

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It’s not the end of the road for N’Golo Kante. He still has all that it takes to be one of the best midfielders in the world. Let’s hope injuries are kind to him and let him become the key player Tuchel wishes him to be.

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