Todd Boehly makes another Chelsea change that could impact N’Golo Kante after Eden Hazard joy

N’Golo Kante has struggled for fitness over three seasons and now Potter must make a big call in the coming months with a key member of staff missing.

Near the top of the list for ways that Chelsea can become a better team overnight, would be with the return of N’Golo Kante.

It’s a bit simplistic and the sample sizes are skewed, but Chelsea have won just two of the six games without Kante this season and didn’t lose with him in the side. The downfall of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea coincided largely with the Frenchman’s injury in the second half against Tottenham two games into the campaign.

After that, Tuchel was forced to use makeshift pivots with Conor Gallagher and Jorginho, falling short on tempo control, physicality, discipline and defensive shape with the pair together. Tuchel chose not to trial different shapes to use Carney Chukwuemeka or Billy Gilmour and was eventually sacked after defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.

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The importance of Kante really can’t be understated. Despite missing 19 Premier League matches during Tuchel’s 58 in charge – nearly one in every three – he was still massively important, losing just four of the 44 he did play. In that time Chelsea won 25 of those matches and conceded 26 goals in those wins.

Compare that with the 19 he didn’t play, Chelsea lost seven of those games – only winning nine – and conceded 28. The nature of it is, when Kante, even at 31, plays, Chelsea have a much, much better chance of winning. That is the factor that keeps revolving around him when new contract talks are brought up. With nine months to go on his deal and the chance to negotiate a free move away in as many as three months, Potter has a big decision to make based on limited physical time watching Kante.

He has only recently returned to training on the pitch and even that is alone. With nine matches in October alone and a busy schedule ahead of the winter World Cup, which Kante will desperately want to go to, Potter will need to not only manage him expertly, but also get as much out of him as possible in order to get a good run under his belt at a potentially season defining period.

His recovery will not be in the hands of a familiar face for long though as The Telegraph report that medical chief Paco Biosca will be leaving the club soon. It comes as part of a continued overhaul of the club from directors and executives to players and a new manager too. Nobody has been untouched by Todd Boehly’s regime so far and Biosca leaving after 11 years of service poses as another body that Kante will lose around him.

Having been at the club since 2016 only Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek now remain from the playing group he joined five years ago. In that time he has served four managers, plus Potter, and almost everything about the club has now changed. It is part of the reason that he may feel inclined to look for pastures new come January when serious talks will be held, and who can blame him.

Under Potter, who is a master in communication and emotional intelligence, Chelsea will know that keeping Kante on in unhappy – or not optimal – circumstances is just as big of a risk as his body is. Making that man one of the most paid players at the club and with a commitment to paying him isn’t one that has much business sense.

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It is also written that first-team doctor Dimitrios Kalogiannidis will take interim charge of the medical department until a new chief is found. Given Chelsea decided to use an American medical group for Wesley Fofana’s fitness checks this summer that may indicate that the new owners have someone in their minds already, and looking after Kante will be one of the most important tasks for anyone that is eventually appointed.

Biosca will be a miss though, and one of his best achievements might be seen as helping Eden Hazard to stay relatively injury free during his Chelsea career. The Belgian was always on the end of kicks and tackles in his time in the Premier League but only missed 13 league matches through injury in the seven years he spent in England.

Since leaving in 2019 he has already missed 49, perhaps demonstrating the condition and recovery Chelsea maintained him in. Similar magic will have to worked with Kante with or without Biosca.

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