Premier League • England

Boehly playing with fire after curious contract offer sparks real fear Chelsea superstar will leave; two Prem sides ready to pounce

Marcos Alonso alongside Chelsea stars Mason Mount, N'Golo Kante, Kai Havertz, Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling

N’Golo Kante has rejected a verbal offer of a new contract at Chelsea that contained terms inferior to those discussed by the previous ownership, per a report.

Todd Boehly and his Clearlake partners took less than 100 days to swing the axe. Thomas Tuchel was replaced by Graham Potter last week and left Stamford Bridge having guided the Blues to Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup glory.

With Potter now in the hot seat, the attention has shifted back to the playing personnel and precisely who he’ll have at his disposal in the months and years to come.

The Evening Standard recently highlighted concerns over the futures of midfield pair Jorginho and Kante.

Chelsea reportedly believe Jorginho may be running his contract down ahead of a free agent exit next summer. Both he and Kante are in the final year of their respective deals, though there is no desire to see the latter leave.

Indeed, the Athletic report the new Chelsea hierarchy verbally offered Kante a two-year extension with an option for a third in August. However, it was not well received by Kante and has been snubbed.

It’s claimed the Roman Abramovich regime had plans in place to offer Kante a lengthier deal, to the tune of three years with an option for a fourth.

That is the same structure of deal Kalidou Koulibaly signed who at 31, is the same age as Kante.

Injury concerns hampering Kante case

However, Chelsea reportedly harbour concerns over Kante’s increasingly frequent visits to the treatment room. That led to Thomas Tuchel attempting to cajole Kante into accepting reduced terms as one of his final acts in charge.

Predictably, Kante does not share Chelsea’s concerns and is seeking a greater duration of deal than what Chelsea have put forward so far.

As a result, the piece’s author, David Ornstein, writes ‘unless there is progress’ in the coming months, Kante ‘will leave as a free agent next summer’.

Despite his age, the Frenchman remains one of the world’s finest holding midfielders.

As such, it’s claimed there won’t be a shortage of suitors, including from within the Premier League.

The article adds two unnamed English sides as well as one in each of France, Germany and Spain ‘would look to pounce’ if he becomes available.

Not all bad news for Chelsea

From the player’s perspective, he is reportedly content to finish his career at Stamford Bridge. That would suggest there’ll be no issues if and perhaps when Chelsea give in to his demands.

Furthermore, despite the current impasse, the lines of communication between the club and player’s camp are stated to be ‘open’.

The key decision will therefore revolve around whether Chelsea are willing to accept long-term pain for short-term gain.

Kante’s injury issues are unlikely to reverse in trend. If he is struggling to stay fit now, that will only get worse as he moves towards his mid-30s. He’s missed five of a possible seven starts this season due to injury.

However, two or even three more years of faultless service may be worth the trade-off of a declining Kante towards the back end of the contract.

Given he is understood to be Chelsea’s third highest earner behind Raheem Sterling and Reece James, it is not a decision Chelsea will take lightly.