Thomas Tuchel has warned N’Golo Kante he can no longer be considered a key part of his plans unless he can overcome the fitness issues that plagued him last season.
The France international has been a pivotal player under a succession of Chelsea managers following his arrival from Leicester in the summer of 2016.
Kante’s influence, however, waned last term as he was hampered by a number of injuries which saw him miss key games and restricted him to 42 appearances in all competitions.
The 31-year-old’s hopes of making a fast start to the new season have been complicated by his enforced absence from Chelsea’s tour of America.
Both Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were not permitted to travel on account of their Covid-19 vaccine status and Tuchel admits being forced to leave the pair behind has left him at a disadvantage.
He said: ‘N’Golo Kante knows what pre-season is all about and for him especially it gives us the possibility to build him up very individually.
‘N’Golo Kante has coaches there in London who take care of him and he is integrated in the Under-23 and Under-19 training so he also has team training.
‘We need N’Golo Kante to have more minutes on the pitch. He is one of our key figures and the key players need to be on the pitch, otherwise they cannot be key players, so this is how we are handling things at the moment.
‘We don’t blame people and don’t put the finger on them.
There’s a personal decision to take and both of them took their personal decision.
‘It doesn’t matter if I understand it, if I like it or, for the professional life, it’s a disadvantage right now. We would have liked both of them here.
‘Once we knew, we needed to provide the best solution, which is to provide training at Cobham on a high physical level.
‘They will be fit when we are back there.’
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