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Kante is Chelsea's 'Salah, Mbappe and Van Dijk' - Tuchel

23:08 BST 19/05/2022
N'Golo Kante Chelsea 2021-22
The German was waxing lyrical once more about a star man after he cemented his return to action on Thursday

N'Golo Kante is Chelsea's "Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe and Virgil van Dijk", according to manager Thomas Tuchel, who says it would have been a "miracle" for the Blues to finish in the top four of the Premier League without the France star.

The defensive midfielder, often highlighted as a central figure within the German coach's system at Stamford Bridge, has often been treated as something of a protected commodity, in part due to an unfortunate injury record.

Having returned from another knock with a cameo off the bench against Liverpool in Saturday's FA Cup final loss, the World Cup winner started for Chelsea in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Leicester - and his boss was quick to wax lyrical about his impact afterwards, even amid his fitness issues.

What has Tuchel said about Kante?

"I think he is our key, key, key player but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch," Tuchel stated. "He plays only 40 per cent of the games then it is maybe a miracle that we arrive in third place.

"He is our Mo Salah, he is our Van Dijk, he is our De Bruyne. He is simply that player, he is our Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. He is that guy who makes the difference and if you only have him for 40 per cent, then it is a huge problem.

"Giving that percentage it is maybe a miracle that he produces results. It puts everything into perspective as I saw Liverpool without Van Dijk last season and they struggled heavily. You see the difference. N'Golo is our key player and we need him on the pitch."

How many games has Kante played this season?

In the Premier League, Kante has made 25 appearances out of a possible 37 matches, but has seen the chance to build consistent momentum blighted by his injury record.

He has still played more than he did throughout the 2019-20 campaign, when he was limited to 22 top-flight games - though he has actually played less minutes this term overall.

It is little surprise that last year, when he featured in 30 games in the Premier League, and all 13 continental games, Chelsea went on to win the Champions League.

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