Chelsea player withdraws from national team squad after injury blow
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has withdrawn from the France national team squad ahead of their UEFA Nations League fixture against Croatia due to a fitness problem.
The French Football Federation has confirmed that the 31-year-old has left the national team squad and will miss Monday’s clash with Croatia.
The statement mentioned that Kante had suffered from knee pain and was not expected to recover in time for the next game.
The midfielder played the full 90 minutes in France’s first Nations League fixture in June in the 2-1 defeat to Denmark but did not make Didier Deschamps’ squad in their last two games; two draws against Croatia and Austria.
While it means that Kante will have extra days to recover ahead of Chelsea’s pre-season in July, his recent injury record has been quite worrying.
According to Transfermarkt, the France international missed 16 games due to fitness-related issues, including the two-game Covid-19 absence, and a total of 46 games in the last three seasons.
This is obviously a problem for Thomas Tuchel who may not be able to rely on such a key player in important games next season.
While the manager still has Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, whom he clearly trusts as well, it is still difficult to replace what Kante offers on the pitch.
Unfortunately, Kante’s acceleration and tendency to get involved in so many duels on the pitch, which makes him an invaluable piece in Tuchel’s plans, might have also taken a toll on his body.
Returning loanee could help reduce the impact of Kante’s fitness issues at Chelsea
Conor Gallagher, who spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace, is arguably the ideal player to solve the issue.
He caught a lot of attention for his impressive goalscoring record at Selhurst Park, but he also ranked first in terms of pressuring the opponents at the club.
The England international put pressure on opponents almost 100 times more than any other player under Patrick Vieira.