Premier League • England

Juventus plotting Man Utd transfer repeat with Chelsea increasingly vulnerable to losing one of their best

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is becoming a more realistic target for Juventus with each passing day, and the Italian side have recent history with the type of deal they’d target.

The Serie A powerhouse are in the midst of a mini crisis at present. They’ve started the new campaign in dismal fashion on both the domestic and European fronts.

Juve currently sit eighth in the table having failed to win any of their last four Serie A matches. In the Champions League they’ve lost two from two and are already six points off qualifying for the knockout rounds.

Manager Max Allegri is feeling the heat, though his woes would have been eased to a degree if not for an unfortunate injury.

One of Juventus’ biggest summer splashes was the re-signing of Paul Pogba.

The divisive ex-Manchester United midfielder departed Old Trafford as a free agent. Juventus swooped in, offering a four-year deal, though Pogba is yet to re-debut in Turin.

That’s because he suffered a knee injury on July 26 that ultimately required surgery. 90min reported Pogba hopes to return to action at the end of October.

The midfield has been an issue for Allegri. As such, it comes as no surprise to see Juventus continue to be linked with Chelsea ace, N’Golo Kante.

Chelsea future up in the air

The Blues dynamo, 31, is in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge. The Athletic previously reported Kante would gladly extend his stay and commit his long-term future to the club.

However, Kante was reportedly verbally offered a two-year deal with an option for a third.

That paled in comparison to the three-year deal with an option for a fourth Kalidou Koulibaly recently signed. Both players are the same age – 31.

One reason behind Chelsea’s hesitance is Kante’s worrying injury record. Kante remains an elite holding midfielder when fit, though keeping him healthy is proving difficult.

With every day that goes by without an extension being signed, Juventus are growing increasingly confident of pulling off another free agent coup.

That’s according to Calciomercato who declare Kante is an ‘object of desire’ for the Juve hierarchy.

Kante offered to Juventus in the summer?

The idea of Juventus replicating their Pogba pick-up with Kante is again floated. Adding further fuel to the fire is the claim Chelsea were willing to include Kante in a deal that would’ve brought Matthijs de Ligt the other way this summer.

Chelsea were hunting for new centre-backs and the Dutchman emerged as a high calibre target. Juventus were open to bringing Kante in, though it was Allegri that reportedly laid waste to the move, instead preferring Jorginho.

De Ligt would ultimately sign for Bayern Munich instead, paving the way for Chelsea to sign Wesley Fofana.

Kante will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs come January 1. Juventus obviously fit into that category, meaning Chelsea may have just over three months left to forge a breakthrough on an extension.

Aside from just Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and PSG are also keeping tabs on Kante.

Can Chelsea afford to lose Kante?

Kante is already one of Chelsea’s top earners. It stands to reason a contract extension would either see his wages maintained or increased.

That is something Chelsea’s new decision makers must wrestle with given Kante is already the wrong side of 30 and increasingly injury prone.

However, Jorginho’s future too is uncertain. The Italy international’s contract also expires next summer and the worst case scenario would be losing both players at the same time.

Both have been extremely dependable for various managers at Chelsea. If both were to depart, a significant influx of new signings would be required.

Chelsea did splash out on rising stars Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei in the summer. However, both lack top level experience and asking them to step up so soon would be a risk.

Mateo Kovacic, Conor Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are Graham Potter’s other midfield options. Denis Zakaria is also on the books, though only on loan.