Premier League • England

Chelsea chances of retaining Kante changed by Potter, as four giant suitors buoyed by key issue ‘complicating matters’

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante

A heavyweight queue of suitors hoping to sign N’Golo Kante is forming, and how Graham Potter’s appointment has affected Chelsea’s chances of retaining their star midfielder has emerged.

The Frenchman, 31, remains one of the world’s most formidable holding midfielders. Kante has been an integral figure in the midfields of multiple Chelsea managers and the same will likely be true for Graham Potter.

However, Kante has entered the final year of his contract and all is not well at Stamford Bridge.

The Athletic recently reported Chelsea had verbally offered Kante a two-year extension with an option for a third. However, that length of contract was less than the three years with an option for a fourth Kalidou Koulibaly received. Both players are the same age – 31.

Chelsea’s reluctance to go above and beyond stemmed from two reasons. Firstly, Kante has begun losing the battle to stay fit in recent times with trips to the treatment room all too common.

Secondly, Kante is already one of the club’s highest earners. According to the Evening Standard, one of Thomas Tuchel’s final acts was to ask Kante to ‘compromise’ on his lofty wage demands when discussing an extension.

The uncertainty surrounding Kante’s long-term future has not gone unnoticed. Indeed, TuttoJuve put Juventus and both Inter and AC Milan among his admirers.

Now, CBS Sports journalist, Ben Jacobs, has shed new light on the situation.

Potter appointment increase Kante chances of staying?

Firstly, Jacobs claimed French giant PSG are also monitoring developments at Chelsea and unlike the Italian trio, they’d have no trouble paying top tier wages.

But TuttoJuve who were stronger on Juventus’ interest levels, Jacobs claimed the Turin club’s interest is only ‘superficial’ at present.

Regardless, according to Jacobs, Potter’s appointment may actually aid Chelsea’s efforts to retain Kante anyway.

He claimed suitors ‘are aware’ Potter’s arrival could change the landscape given he’s always been a ‘big fan’ of the midfielder.

Potter now has the chance to assess Kante up close and personal. If he’s as good as he believed, the inference is he’ll push to have Kante’s contract extended.

The issue of Kante’s high wages is a factor that must be broached. Indeed, Jacobs added his high salary and demands are ‘complicating matters’.

It stands to reason Chelsea do not want one of their highest earning players to also be one of their oldest, especially as he’s already 31 and increasingly injury prone.

Regardless, Kante seemingly has a backer in Potter and losing such an elite operator would be a poor way to start his first summer window in 2023.

Kante not Chelsea’s only midfield concern

Fellow midfield linchpin Jorginho is also out of contract in 2023.

The Evening Standard claimed Chelsea harbour fears he’s running down his contract ahead of a free agent move next summer.

If an extension isn’t signed by January 1, he’ll be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs.

Like Kante, Jorginho is also the wrong side of 30, though remains a regular starter when available.

Chelsea are therefore in something of a conundrum with the pair.

Conor Gallagher has not impressed in the opportunities he’s been given thus far.

Chelsea bought Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei in the summer. However they both lack top level experience and expecting them to replace Jorginho and/or Kante would be a big ask.

Chelsea must now decide whether to stick or twist with the reliable but ageing Kante and Jorginho.