Thomas Tuchel said N’Golo Kante insisted on playing against Norwich City despite his tight muscles, but the Chelsea manager decided against it.

The 30-year-old’s absence from the matchday squad at the weekend came as a surprise to many.

The midfielder featured for about an hour in the win over Malmo in midweek. The initial expectation was that Kante would start on Saturday.

Apparently, Kante had a minor muscle issue and Tuchel decided not to take the risks against the player’s wishes.

Chelsea Training and Press Conference
(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“The game was too early, it was as easy as that,” the German said about Kante’s absence during the embargoed section of his post-match press conference.

“He had a full training [on Friday]. After training, he said he felt his muscles a bit tight. [There was] no injury.

“Then he went to the physio for massages and some treatment.


“He actually wanted to wait until [Saturday morning] to make a decision [on whether he could play], but I said no.

“I said take your time, and it was simply one day too early. If the match had been [on Sunday], he would have played.

“So he’s fully available for Tuesday [vs Southampton] and for Newcastle.”

Chelsea v Norwich City - Premier League
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It proved to be a good decision in the end, as Chelsea cruised to a 7-0 victory despite Kante’s absence.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s re-emergence also provided Tuchel an extra option in midfield, although it likely spells bad news for Saul Niguez’s future at Chelsea.

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