N’Golo Kante and Chelsea are yet to agree to terms on a new contract, with fears growing that the French midfielder will leave the club as a free agent at the end of the season.
The 31-year-old has asked for a three-year deal with the option to extend by a further 12 months but, as first reported by The Athletic, the club’s new decision-makers have recently offered two years with a one-year option.
Chelsea has long had a policy of not offering long deals to players over the age of 30, and winger Willian left two years ago following a similar standoff. However, 33-year-old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was given a three-year deal when he was signed from Barcelona on deadline day, and centre half Kalidou Koulibaly, 31, signed a four-year deal when he joined from Napoli.
Kante’s injury issues had become a hurdle, said Thomas Tuchel, who was last week sacked as head coach. He has been plagued by niggles since the 2019-20 season, with 18 different issues keeping him out for short periods.
Kante missed 16 games last season owing to issues with his groin, knee, and two separate bouts of coronavirus. (He missed the club’s pre-season tour of the United States because he had not been vaccinated.)
He has been sidelined with a muscle problem since coming off late in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on August 14.
“No, you cannot [disregard Kante’s injury record],” Tuchel said when asked about the midfielder’s new contract last month. “You have to consider everything that is on the table — his potential, his influence, and his quality.”
“But [also] on the table of course, is his age, his salary and his injury rate. From there you build a whole picture and try to find a solution.”
Tuchel added that the midfielder’s regular absences made their attempts to win a Premier League title significantly harder.
“This is a key question, and the answer is maybe no [we can’t win the title],” he added. “But we try to It’s much more difficult because you see the impact that he has, you see the impact in the goals that we concede, the amount of goals, the amount of points that we have, the amount of goals that we concede, the amount of goals that he makes. “
Chelsea’s new head coach Graham Potter will take charge of his first game, against Salzburg in the Champions League, on Wednesday night, but Sunday’s Premier League game against Liverpool is in doubt owing to police resource concerns ahead of the Queen’s funeral next Monday.