Chelsea FC are going through a tumultuous time as of late after their poor start to the campaign led to Thomas Tuchel being sacked last week. The Blues swiftly appointed now ex-Brighton manager Graham Potter as the German’s replacement.
Chelsea fans expressed their sadness at the dismissal by showing immense support and sympathy towards Tuchel after he released a heartbreaking statement late on Sunday evening.
Unfortunately, the Chelsea- related drama doesn’t seem to have ended, as transfer expert David Ornstein of The Athletic reported this morning that star midfielder N’Golo Kante has refused Chelsea’s offer to extend his contract at Stamford Bridge.
Kante joined The Blues from Leicester in 2016 and brought the Premier League trophy with him to London as he became only the second player to be PL champion in back-to-back seasons with two different clubs. The only other player to have achieved this: Eric Cantona in the early 90’s.
The World Cup winner is into the last 12 months of his contract, meaning Kante could walk away from Stamford Bridge for free next summer. Talks over a new contract have been underway since 2021, however, negotiations had to be paused due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and its links to former owner Roman Abramovich.
As per The Athletic, the sale of Chelsea to American businessman Todd Boehly led to the resumption of contract negotiations, with an offer to extend Kante’s deal for two years – plus an option for a third – being tabled. However, Kante has refused Chelsea’s offer as the terms of the improved contract, particularly the duration of the deal, has not met the player’s expectations.
The 31-year-old is looking for a longer stay in London having seen Kalidou Koulibaly, also 31, be given a four-year deal earlier in the summer. Kante’s injury issues over the last few seasons have reportedly played a role in the thinking of the owner with regards to the length of the contract. Although the Frenchman made 42 appearances last campaign, he was restricted to very few minutes.
However, Kante’s argument is that when he does play, he is often one of, if not the best player on the pitch. This was evident in the 2020/2021 campaign where Kante’s Man of the Match performances in the latter stages of the Champions League propelled Chelsea to their second ever UCL win.
This season is further evidence of Kante’s importance to the team. During their draw against Spurs, where Chelsea were clearly the better team on the day, Kante was phenomenal. Of the five games the former Leicester man has missed so far, Chelsea have lost three of them and Tuchel was sacked as a result. The other two fixtures were narrow, unconvincing 2-1 wins against Kante’s old club and West Ham, respectively.
Given the undoubted quality that Kante still has, many Clubs around the world would be eager to bring the Frenchman in. Arsenal were linked with him in the summer, and it’s been reported a few English clubs, as well as clubs in Spain, Germany and France would all be looking to seize the opportunity to sign the player, should it arise.