Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante remains linked with a Stamford Bridge exit this summer as the Blues look to rebuild a new squad and potentially use the money earned from selling the World Cup-winning Frenchman to further invest in that new project.
Chelsea have already secured deals for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, while they remain interested in Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz if the German side are willing to negotiate.
Despite the coronavirus crisis taking its toll on football clubs across the world, Chelsea are in a healthy position. A transfer ban last summer and a lack of activity in January has given them a sizeable budget this summer that they might not otherwise have had.
The club has brought in over £140m from sales or loan deals in the last 12 months, while their only major expense prior to Ziyech and Werner was the permanent signing of Mateo Kovacic.
But with more still to do – the club still has eyes on Leicester’s Ben Chilwell, who won’t come cheap, in addition to Havertz – it may be that more money needs to be raised.
The prospect of Kante being sacrificed to fund more spending has already been raised, but The Times has once again reported the issue. That follows on from what 90min first revealed in April, explaining Chelsea are willing to sell the 29-year-old, whose influence has started to wane.
Chelsea will consider letting him go if a suitable offer comes in, but just where could Kante end up?
Inter are desperate to reclaim their place back among Europe’s elite and have regularly raided the Premier League over the last 12 months since former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was hired.
Conte knows first-hand the abilities of Kante as the Frenchman was a focal point of Chelsea’s title winning team in 2016/17, scooping a clean sweep of individual awards from the PFA, FWA and Premier League that season.
The presence of the excellent Marcelo Brozovic at the base of Conte's midfield may negate their need to invest in another defensive midfielder, however.
Juventus are still waiting for an extra push to win their first Champions League title since 1996 and only their third overall. Kante could potentially be a missing piece to make that happen.
One concern might be a salary cap that Juve are rumoured to want to place on new signings in order to cope with the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis. But that limit is still expected to be €9m per year and Kante is famous for not being driven by money.
Could Manchester City make an ambitious approach for Kante? It wouldn’t be unheard of for Chelsea to sell a player to a direct rival if they consider the offer good enough.
City are losing David Silva this summer, while Fernandinho has been repurposed as a centre-back for much of this season and new long-term defenders might be tougher to come by. Equally, there are doubts over Kevin De Bruyne’s future depending on the club’s CAS appeal against UEFA.
90min revealed in April that Paris Saint-Germain would make a serious bid for Kante this summer if they believe him to be genuinely available.
That would represent a return to France for the player, having left as a relative unknown when Caen sold him to Leicester in 2015. Rather like Juventus, PSG are desperate to win the Champions League and need a bit more of a push to get them over the line.
Real Madrid have been the club most heavily linked with Kante, largely because Bernabeu coach Zinedine Zidane has been eyeing a French-focused recruitment strategy.
Real are in the process of building their next great team following the club’s most recent Champions League success in 2018 and Kante, while not a long-term solution, could help immeasurably during the transition period if the right deal is available.
Source : 90min