With the Champions League final and Euro 2020 looming for the Blues and Les Bleus, both club and country will be holding their breath over any layoff
Chelsea and France will be both left to sweat on the fitness of N’Golo Kante after the central midfielder exited the former’s Premier League clash with Leicester City after just half-an-hour.
The 30-year-old, very much a key cornerstone of the Blues’ successful revamp under Thomas Tuchel, was replaced by Mateo Kovacic inside the opening half at Stamford Bridge, an immediate rematch of Saturday’s FA Cup final.
With the Champions League final for club and Euro 2020 – for which Kante was named in Didier Deschamps’ squad on Tuesday – for country both looming, the two sides face an anxious wait on the former Foxes man’s fitness. Early signs are positive, though, as Tuchel said after the match that his midfielder came off as a precaution.
What did Tuchel say following the match?
“N’Golo is not injured,” Tuchel told reporters. “He told me – and I understood him right in French – he went out before an injury.
“He felt his hamstrings and was worried that he would get injured if he continued to play.”
What would Kante’s absence mean?
Any injury for the Frenchman would be a major blow to both Tuchel and Deschamps as they go in search of historic silverware over the next few months, arguably more so for the former.
The ex-Paris Saint Germain boss has reached his second successive Champions League final in no small part thanks to Kante’s match-winning feats across the knockout stages, with his name likely to be the first on the teamsheet to face Manchester City in Porto later this month if available.
For a game where the Blues will already be underdogs against a Premier League champion side chasing a maiden European crown – despite two victories in recent months against Pep Guardiola’s side – the onetime Caen star’s absence would be a hammer-blow to their chances.
As for Deschamps, Kante’s non-availability may not be as critical as it is for club, but given that the 30-year-old played every game in their Russia 2018 World Cup triumph, it would still cause headaches for him as he aims to take Les Bleus to consecutive major titles.