N’Golo Kanté is a remarkable player and human being, and it’s scary to imagine how much worse off Chelsea would’ve been over the past three years were he not a constant presence in our midfield. However, that steady and often unflashy excellence, not to mention the apparent indefatigability, has also meant that we probably have taken him for granted far too often. And that’s partially why we’ve ended up in the current situation, where he’s struggling a bit to recover from injury — or as the situation has devolved to now, injuries.
Having missed practically the entire preseason while still attempting to recover from the knee injury he suffered a couple days before the Europa League final at the end of May, Kanté picked up a knock in his first competitive appearance of the season as a substitute against Manchester United, yet gutted out 120 minutes just three days later against Liverpool, then did the same against Leicester City for 90 minutes four days later. In the week that followed, he picked up another injury, which proved too painful even for him to play on this weekend against Norwich City.
And it doesn’t sound like Kanté is close to full fitness, with head coach Frank Lampard hoping that France do what Chelsea coaches seem incapable of doing (with understandable reason, as mentioned at the top), rest the man.
“It is a difficult one. He has had four years of constantly playing. [The] injury from the Europa League final has affected his pre-season. Then he hurt himself against Man United. We are trying to get him through it. Today was too painful.
“The international break will be great for him to get the injury right. It would be great for everybody [if Kante stays] because he’s been playing game after game after game.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
Given Chelsea’s midfield issues, it’s imperative that we get Kanté proper healthy before the season really gets going, with the standard twice-weekly fixture load incoming after the international break.