Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea’s chances of winning silverware this season evolve entirely around the displays of N’Golo Kante, with the Blues manager piling rich praise on the France midfielder.
Kante has proved an astute signing for the Blues since arriving from Leicester in a £32m deal from Leicester in 2016. He helped Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season, since adding the FA Cup and the Europa League. Indeed, he could yet add two more trophies to that haul this season. Chelsea are in the FA Cup final and will bid to despatch Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final on Wednesday.
Although several managers have come and gone during Kante’s time at Stamford Bridge, he remains a constant. Having made 213 appearances for the club, he is a player widely appreciated by all who play with and against him.
Kante has started 19 of Tuchel’s 23 matches in charge. A hamstring injury saw him miss the other games, including the 5-2 home hammering to West Brom.
Now Tuchel has described Kante as a “dream player” and insists he’s the man he wants to build his side around.
“He is the guy you need to win trophies. That is why I am so, so happy he is here [at Chelsea],” Tuchel said.
“I have dreamed about this player, fighting for this player at any club I was coaching at and now he is my player.
“For me he is an example, an unbelievable input for any team in the world. He will be key.
“N’Golo is a nice guy, almost a shy person. He is quiet, he likes his own quality time and he is not loud.
“I see him smile a lot, very shy and polite but I am so happy that players like him exist. It is a pleasure to watch.
“What he is doing with his mentality, a real helper. He always gives everything to help anybody on the pitch and such a nice, humble and quiet guy.”
Champions League goal for Kante
As well as four trophies at club level, Kante also helped France to World Cup glory in 2018.
However, the Champions League is one trophy to elude him so far and he’ll be busting a gut to ensure they make it. Awaiting either them or Real in Istanbul will be Manchester City after they defeated PSG 4-1 on aggregate.
With the tie finely balanced at 1–1, Tuchel admits he’s happy to have Kante available at Stamford Bridge. He’ll also likely earn a big cuddle from his boss if they make it through.
“I see him interact with everybody, but on his own terms. Still, he needs to accept that I will cuddle him, I do this a lot!”