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.
“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.”
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.