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Chelsea can’t grant Manchester United their own Neymar with Thomas Tuchel stance clear

Chelsea can’t grant Manchester United their own Neymar with Thomas Tuchel stance clear

“I think he is our key, key, key player, but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch,” responded Thomas Tuchel when questioned about N’Golo Kante’s form and fitness in 2022.

“Given he’s played only 40% of the games, it is maybe a miracle that we arrive in third place. He is our Mo Salah. He is our (Virgil) van Dijk. He is our (Kevin) De Bruyne. He is simply that player, our Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

“He is the guy who makes the difference, and if you only have him for 40%, then it is a huge problem. It puts everything into perspective. I saw Liverpool without van Dijk last season and they struggled heavily. You see the difference. N’Golo is our key player. We need him on the pitch.”

Tuchel wasn’t accomplished there, though. Far from it. “He is one of the very best midfielders in the world,” the German continued. “Because is not that obvious, he is not in the spotlight, he is even more important for a team. A guy like N’Golo with the mentality of a helper, a water carrier, makes the difference. Big teams and successful teams need this. That’s why we love him so much.”

Kante joined Chelsea from Leicester City in 2016 and won the Premier League in his first season. The FA Cup came next. Then there’s the Europa League. 

Tuchel has also won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and Club World Cup. Not to mention that he won the World Cup with France.

The 31-year-old played important roles in each of those victories, producing match-winning efforts.

“Last year, in the last five knockout matches of the Champions League, he got the [man-of-the-match] trophy. I mean, they almost handed him the trophy before the match,” joked Tuchel earlier this month.

Unfortunately, Kante was unable to continue his level of play throughout the 2021/22 season; given the heights he attained on Chelsea’s way to Porto, this comes as no surprise. As a result of injury and illness, he only started 21 Premier League games.

What was arguably most striking was that Kante was not pushed back into the starting XI for the FA Cup final against Liverpool. Mateo Kovacic, whose ankle was twice its normal size, was pressed into service at Wembley for as long as he could.

Kante did come in in the second half, prompting moans from Liverpool fans who had grown accustomed to seeing the Frenchman dominate midfield.

That did not happen this time. Kante was fine, ok, in the centre. It’s not what Chelsea fans are used to.

This is why the Blues will have to make a difficult decision over Kante’s future this summer. His contract expires in 2023, and no negotiations to extend it have taken place.

It explains why rival clubs are increasingly concerned that Chelsea may be willing to let the France international leave for the appropriate price.

Manchester United have been linked, with The Athletic reporting that the Reds are eyeing a deal for Kante this summer as they embark on a rebuilding project under Erik ten Hag.

There’s little doubt the midfielder would assist United; his experience and professionalism would be invaluable in what has proven to be a difficult dressing room.

And perhaps, after a well-deserved summer break to rest and recharge, Kante will return strong next term, recover his finest form, and live up to Tuchel’s comparisons of De Bruyne, Mbappe, and Neymar made a fortnight ago.

As a result, Chelsea is unable to sell Kante to Manchester United. They should not even think about it. In a season of tremendous unknowns following the Todd Boehly-led consortium’s purchase, the Blues can’t enhance a Premier League competitor, they can’t present them a player who could once again establish himself the league’s finest. The funds will not be worth it.

“He can make the difference, but he can only make the difference if he is on the pitch and on his top level,” added Tuchel after Chelsea’s draw with Leicester City at Stamford Bridge. “This is our target for him – and he always does everything [to get back]. He is one of the very best.”


Chelsea can’t grant Manchester United their own Neymar with Thomas Tuchel stance clear

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