Premier League • England

Exclusive: Chelsea to field devastating midfield pairing after U-turn tees up critical Potter coup

Thiago Silva, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea, February 2022

TEAMtalk can exclusively reveal a Chelsea midfielder has been the subject of talks with four European heavyweights, though a U-turn will bring good news for Graham Potter and tee up a devastating tandem.

There’s been very little to cheer about in the early stages of Graham Potter’s tenure at Stamford Bridge. The Blues sit a lowly 10th in the Premier League and have bowed out of both domestic cups. They’ll also take a one-goal deficit into the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Borussia Dortmund.

However, both the Athletic and Ben Jacobs are of the view Potter’s position is not under threat.

One factor that has played a sizeable part in Chelsea’s early struggles under Potter is injuries.

Two of Chelsea’s finest players are unquestionably Reece James and N’Golo Kante. However, James has featured just three times in the league since mid-October. Kante’s only two league appearances came in August.

Kante’s future is a subject that has appeared uncertain for large parts of the current campaign. The French destroyer, 31, is out of contract in the summer and as yet, talks over an extension have not borne fruit.

Prior reports suggested Kante was angling for a three-year deal – the same length of contract Kalidou Koulibaly (also aged 31) received in the summer.

However, Chelsea were understood to only be willing to stretch to two years in lieu of Kante’s growing injury issues.

But per transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, a breakthrough has seemingly been made.

Romano tweeted talks over a new deal are ‘progressing’ on Wednesday, though acknowledged the contract length is still to be ironed out.

Now, TEAMtalk’s transfer insider, Graeme Bailey, has shed light on all things Kante.

Four Euro giants hold talks with Chelsea ace

Firstly, Bailey explained Kante’s camp have held talks with no fewer than four European giants.

However, that was a simple case of the Frenchman’s representatives conducting their due diligence and Kante’s preference was always to remain with Chelsea.

That was an outcome that didn’t look likely at one stage with Kante previously believing he would be shown the door. However, we’ve learned an extended stay is now the likeliest result and the Blues are confident an agreement will be forged.

“Chelsea are battling to keep hold of N’Golo Kante, but they are confident he will sign an extension,” said Bailey.

“Kante’s representatives have been speaking to rival clubs in Europe, which is right given his contract expires at the end of the season.

“Juventus, both Milan clubs as well as Paris Saint Germain are believed to have spoken to him.

“Kante believed at one point he would be leaving and was considering the move, but he is very comfortable at Chelsea as long as he feels wanted he will be staying put.”

Enzo-Kante partnership will be attacker’s worst nightmare

In the event Kante does commit beyond the current campaign, a tantalising midfield pairing with Enzo Fernandez awaits.

Both players are all-action and excel on the defensive side of the game. Kante has been arguably the Premier League’s greatest holding midfielder over the last decade and a tandem with the like-minded and far younger Fernandez will give opposing attackers nightmares.

Many may be surprised to learn Chelsea actually boast the Premier League’s joint-second meanest defence this season. The only team to have conceded fewer than their 23 is Newcastle (15).

Adding Kante back into the mix alongside Fernandez, as well as welcoming James back on the right side of defence will make the Blues an even fiercer prospect defensively.

If they can resolve their issues in the final third, results could very quickly change for Potter and his staff.

READ MORE: Chelsea strike again as Fabrizio Romano reveals verbal agreement ‘close’ for Ecuadorian midfielder