Thomas Tuchel has given every indication he sees N’Golo Kante as part of his long-term plans at Chelsea, branding the France international as one of the best midfielders in the world.
Tuchel has confirmed that Kante will start against Barnsley on Thursday night in the FA Cup fifth round tie having played just 31 minutes for the German since he replaced Frank Lampard.
The 29-year-old has been hampered by a muscle injury but there have been suggestions that Tuchel’s new playing concept and strategy may not suit Kante’s strengths.
That’s a theory familiar to Kante who was supposedly on the verge of leaving Stamford Bridge last summer as Lampard tried to move the squad forward, but then realised what a key asset the midfielder is.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will auto-play soon8Cancel
Tuchel seems to follow the same trail of thought as, speaking before Chelsea’s fifth round FA Cup tie against Barnsley, he insisted Kante’s future remains in west London.
“I think N’Golo fits into any manager’s plans on the planet,” Tuchel said. “I was desperate to have him in my teams [in the past].
“He is a big Chelsea player and one of the best midfielders in the world. So I am so lucky to have him in my squad and that he is back again.
“If you look at his performances coming back from injury, we put him on the pitch against Tottenham with no minutes. That was really difficult but he helped everybody on the pitch with his support, mentality, and quality, which is what he does.
“If you see the step he took in training between the Tottenham match and Sheffield United, the 30 minutes he played [against Sheffield United] was a huge performance. We switched to a three in the midfield and this helped us escape the pressure and be in control of the game again.
“I am very, very impressed. We’ve known him for many years very well because we’ve…