Our worst fears have been realized. It turns out N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea’s most important player, is human afterall. The sounds you’re hearing is our world collapsing.
Kanté was making his 20th international appearance for France in the World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria on Saturday. Things couldn’t have begun any better than a third-minute goal from Blaise Matuidi. France looked on course for an easy three points and a spot guaranteed in at least the qualifying playoffs for next summer’s tournament.
France did eventually collect the points, but Kanté’s day was over just past the half-hour mark as he became the second key Chelsea player in the space of a week to pick up a hamstring injury.
After the match, France head coach Didier Deschamp confirmed that it was muscular injury to the back of the leg and that Kanté will miss at least one game, France’s last qualifier, on Tuesday against Belarus. The former Chelsea midfielder called the current Chelsea midfielder “very important” to the team and also brought up his exit as a big part of why France’s second-half performance was so much worse than the first.
“NG came out with a muscle problem, on the back of the leg. He will not be there Tuesday (against Belarus).”
-Didier Deschamps; source: L’Equipe via Google Translate
As we can see on the video above, Kanté did walk off under his own power, which tends to be a good sign. However, Morata walked off the pitch, too, and his injury was later diagnosed as a grade 2 strain with a recovery time of over four weeks (Chelsea have yet to confirm this diagnosis from the Spanish national team, it should be noted).
There is no specific diagnosis yet for the extent of Kanté’s injury but hopefully it will indeed prove to be a minor strain. Yes, Danny Drinkwater should be available, but it’s tough to imagine Chelsea operating at peak efficiency and ability without Kanté, the Premier League’s reigning player of the year in the side. The Blues return to action next weekend against Crystal Palace, then face three home games in three different competitions over eight days with AS Roma in Europe, Watford in the league, and Everton in the League Cup.