Tuchel insists Chelsea player has qualities no other player offers despite recent inconsistency

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted N’Golo Kante has not been as consistent as he had been in the previous seasons but remains a key player for the team.

The 31-year-old has been at Chelsea since 2016 and on Wednesday, it was perhaps the first time he was subbed off at half-time due to tactical reasons.

The energetic midfielder, who won back-to-back man of the match awards in the two legs of the semifinal tie against Real Madrid just a year ago, actually struggled against the same opponents.

Tuchel believes there is no single cause of the midfielder’s dip in performance.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

“I honestly cannot answer the question,” the German said in Friday’s press conference when asked about Kante’s inconsistent performances recently.

“One thing that is very clear is that N’Golo is a key player because he has outstanding and unique qualities.

“N’Golo is a unique player who can give something that nobody else can to the team.

“He struggles this season with consistency due to injuries, illness — and this is also part of the reason for our inconsistency [as a team]. We lost him for so many matches.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

“At the moment, he is fasting due to his religious belief, so maybe [it is] another reason.

“He’s not doing it for the first time, but if you don’t eat and drink during the day, it can have an effect.

“Maybe it’s part of the explanation why we had the feeling that he’s not at his highest level if you compare it to how big an influence he had in the last campaign against Real Madrid.”

Obviously, any team would suffer if a player of Kante’s calibre could not perform as expected.

Being a player who relies heavily on his physical attributes and seemingly unlimited energy, the France international might have felt the effects of ageing more than others too.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.