Mission accomplished. Yesterday evening, Chelsea validated their ticket for the next edition of the UEFA Champions League, after a draw against Leicester. But after the meeting, it was above all N’Golo Kanté who was at the heart of the debates. At a press conference, his trainer Thomas Tuchel once again made him a long and beautiful declaration of love. The German technician, asked about the future of the Frenchman under contract until 2023, was clear. We must build and move forward with the 31-year-old footballer, author of 2 goals and 5 assists in 41 appearances in all competitions (30 starts).
“I think he is our key, key player. But the key, key players have to be on the pitch. He only plays 40% of matches. So maybe it’s a miracle that we came in third place. Because he’s our Mo Salah, he’s our (Virgil) Van Dijk, he’s our (Kevin) De Bruyne, he’s just that player. He’s our Neymar, he’s our Kylian Mbappé, he’s the one who makes the difference. And if you only have it at 40%, it’s a huge problem”. Which is obviously not enough in his eyes.
Tuchel praises Kanté
He continues about the Frenchy, injured several times this year: “Given that percentage it is perhaps a miracle how consistent we are producing results, because I saw Liverpool without van Dijk last season and they struggled a lot. And you see the difference. So N’Golo is our key player, and he has to be on the pitch. I hope he will solve his physical problems. It’s difficult to live, because it’s important for him to be there and to have the rhythm. I think he played well, but he can play so much better.”.
Tuchel expects even more from his star. “So he constantly starts to pick up the pace and then once he gets the pace he gets injured a bit and he’s out again. Imagine last year, he received the man of the match trophy in the last five Champions League meetings. They even presented him with the trophy before the match, because it was clear that by playing he would be the man of the match. It was like that. And this guy who becomes the man of the match in every Champions League game is only there for 40% of the game. It’s huge for us. We are doing everything to solve it, and of course he too».
The German wants to keep it
The former PSG coach concluded by paying a final tribute to his player. “For sure he is one of the best players in the history of Chelsea. But I can only repeat myself. He can make a difference, but he can only make a difference if he is on the pitch and at his best. That’s our goal for him, and he’s doing it anyway. He is one of the best. He is one of the best midfielders in the world.”. In his eyes, he is even a club legend on the same level as a Didier Drogba.
“It is sure, because it is not so obvious. He’s not in the spotlight, he’s even more important for a team because a guy like N’Golo with the mentality of an assistant, a water carrier, it makes the difference and the big teams and the teams who succeed need it. That’s why we love him so much, and everyone wants to play with him and why we miss him so much when he’s not around.”. Something to please the former Leicester player, who has one year left on his contract. And needless to say, Thomas Tuchel is pushing hard for Chelsea to offer him a new lease.