Tuchel reveals Kante is fasting & suggests lack of food may explain dip in form at Chelsea

N'Golo Kante Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that N'Golo Kante is currently fasting for Ramadan, which he believes could be an explanation for the Chelsea midfielder's recent dip in form.

Kante was subsituted at half-time for the first time in his career on Wednesday night as Chelsea suffered a 3-1 loss against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Tuchel insisted that the decision was a tactical one post-match, but Kante has struggled to reach his best level throughout the 2021-22 campaign while battling a string of niggling injuries and recovering from Covid-19.

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What's been said?

Tuchel also thinks a lack of food could be a reason for Kante's inconsistency, with the Frenchman having been observing the celebration of Eid since April 1.

As a practising Muslim, Kante is not allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours until Ramadan ends on May 1.

Asked whether the demands of top-flight football are catching up with Kante now that he is 31-years-old, Tuchel told a press conference: "I can honestly not answer the question (whether football is catching up to him). One thing is very clear, N’Golo is a key player with outstanding qualities, unique qualities. For other teams, maybe it is some strikers or central defenders.

"For us it is N’Golo, a unique player who can give something to the team that nobody else can. He struggles this season with consistency due to injuries, due to illness.

"This is also a reason for our bit of inconsistency of course. We missed him for too many matches if you look at the minutes he is available he can play.

"At the moment he is fasting due to his religion, due to his belief. Maybe another reason. He is not doing it for the first time but if you don’t eat during the day for many days it can have an effect.

"He is used to it but yeah, maybe it is also part of the explanation why we had the feeling he is not on his highest level if you compare how much of an influence he was in the last campaign against Real Madrid.

"This is also nothing to be ashamed of or feel sorry for. We try to push him, try to help him because we know what we have when he is on the pitch.”

How are the Premier League helping Muslim players?

Kante will be available for selection again when Chelsea take in a trip to Southampton on Saturday, but will play on an empty stomach if selected.

Muslims are only to permitted to break their fast between 19:30 and 20:30 BST, and the Premier League made allowances for some of the players observing Ramadan last season.

In a meeting between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium, a pause in play was granted so that Wesley Fofana and Cheikhou Kouyate could eat, with an unwritten rule having been put in place allowing team captains to call short breaks before goal kicks or throw-ins.

This season, it has once again been agreed that captains can call for similar breaks in play during their pre-match meetings with referees, but only nine of the 52 Premier League matches taking place during Eid are scheduled to kick off after 19:30.

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