Premier League • England

Chelsea negotiations complicate for vital midfield deal, as Fabrizio Romano confirms Barcelona taking information

Declan Rice challenging N'Golo Kante

Chelsea have a “serious” risk of losing one of their best performers of the modern era – N’Golo Kante – in 2023, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Kante has been a well respected player during his time with Chelsea, whom he originally joined from Leicester City in 2016 after winning the Premier League title. In all but one of his seven full seasons at Stamford Bridge, he has played in more than 40 matches across all competitions.

This season, though, his gametime has been on the lower side due to injury concerns. Those issues have made his contract situation a delicate matter in itself.

As things stand, Kante is due to become a free agent next summer. In theory, he could sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from the beginning of January.

Consequently, there has been speculation about Kante being targeted by Barcelona. The La Liga giants have signed several free agents in recent years and could repeat the strategy with Kante.

There have been some conflicting claims about how the Frenchman would feel about the move. Some sources have suggested he would welcome the switch, whereas others have insisted he would be happy to continue with Chelsea.

The conditions have to be right for either scenario to happen, though. To renew at Chelsea, Kante – who will turn 32 years old in March – might have to take a wage cut.

In the meantime, clubs like Barcelona might be keeping tabs on the situation. There have also been rumours about Kante staying in the Premier League with a London rival like Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur, although they have been discarded.

Fabrizio Romano provides N’Golo Kante update

Hence, for now, Barcelona seem like the main club to keep an eye on. According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, though, they are yet to reach an advanced stage of their pursuit.

That said, the chances of Kante changing clubs in 2023 are seemingly on the up, despite him being happy in the English capital.

Romano wrote in a column for Caught Offside: “I’m told there’s still nothing advanced between him and any club.

“He’s happy in London but negotiations with Chelsea are not easy, so he has serious chances to leave on a free transfer.

“Barcelona are always informed about potential free agents, Kante included; but it’s not an advanced negotiation yet.”

Chelsea must be cautious either way

Kante has made 262 appearances across his Chelsea career, impressing with his dynamism in midfield. A feeling has been building recently that his better days may be behind him, but he remains an important figure when available.

Still, Chelsea should perhaps wait to see how his physical condition improves before making any kind of major commitment.

Since Kante is in his thirties, problems like those he has recently been encountering may become more common. Hence, it might be wiser for Chelsea to reinvest.

But there is no one quite like Kante, on the market or not. Therefore, he would be a tough player to replace when considering his peak levels.

Chelsea will hope to get some kind of indication about what his plans could be before January, so they don’t put themselves at too much risk. But there are risks either way, in fairness.

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