League of Nations - Team of France: N'Golo Kanté, a recurring absentee with the Blues

League of Nations – Team of France: N’Golo Kanté, a recurring absentee with the Blues

Everything is not yet depopulated in the France team, but only one person is seriously starting to miss: N’Golo Kanté. The midfielder left the tricolor group on Saturday morning due to knee pain, will be forfeited on Monday against Croatia (8:45 p.m.), which has become an annoying habit for the Blues midfielder in recent years.

Since the coronation of 2018, the Chelsea player has missed 24 matches out of 46 possible (52%), and Deschamps has only been able to count on him for three meetings since the last Euro. A player who has missed more games than he has played in four years is a problem. For Kanté already, who is unstoppable, and for the France team who needs his activity in the midfield.

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Injuries, Covid and fatigue…

There are several explanations for such an accumulation of absences. The injuries, already, that the former Leicester accumulates and which prevent him from continuing. It’s the knee this time. But it was the ankle, the groin before. Then the coronavirus, which Kanté had twice, which deprived him of the Final 4 of the League of Nations in the fall – a competition which he therefore does not have on his record – and which seriously impacted his form, in selection as in club.

N’Golo Kanté against Denmark

Credit: Getty Images

Because the small medium also misses a lot of appointments with the Blues lately, an anomaly in his career. Before 2019, he had only suffered three minor injuries, when it is fifteen over the last three years that have deprived him of the trifle of 50 matches. And even when it’s there, “NG” isn’t always the same. Apart from the last Euro, an appointment where he did not perform in a role where he had nevertheless been so valuable in 2018, Kanté gives the image of a tired player at 31 years old.

There is a logic to that, he who has all the same played 42 matches this season and whose main quality is to chain efforts at high intensity, within a team which has played five different competitions this season, with high ambitions in each of them. With the Blues, Kanté was on all fronts in 2021-2022: 3rd place in the Premier League, quarter-finalist in the Champions League, two finals in national cups, and a victory at the Club World Cup.

N’Golo Kante down injured for Chelsea against Liverpool, Anfield, August 28, 2021

Credit: Getty Images

Kanté’s fatigue was already visible against Real Madrid in the Champions League two months ago, in a meeting where he was taken out at half-time by Tuchel, and it is still true today. He needs more than ever, like many of his teammates like Antoine Griezmann, rest and vacations.

“Griezmann must go on vacation… and start Nkunku on Monday”

A 2-man midfield questioned for Deschamps?

The problem is that the France team must continue to perform without their midfield elf. Also deprived of Pogba on a fairly recurrent basis, Didier Deschamps has no choice but to give players less experienced than the victorious doublet in 2018 their chance. Aurélien Tchouameni has fully grasped it, he who has a more similar profile of the Manchester United player, tall, hard-working and very forward-looking.

The others are still somewhat shy. Corentin Tolisso had taken an option, but his injuries gradually pushed him away from the Blues. Jordan Veretout, summoned last fall, Mattéo Guendouzi or Boubacar Kamara, the two newcomers, do not currently have the stuff to play in a major competition in the shoes of a midfielder.

Without a pure recovery of the quality of Kanté, the very idea of ​​keeping a system with only two midfielders is dangerous for Didier Deschamps and the Blues, too often overwhelmed in the midfield during their last outings. And whether it’s 3, 4 or 5 behind, the French coach has so far not made the choice to return to three players in midfield…

“Four or five behind, the Blues have the same problems”

Watch out for the traffic jam for November

So should we be worried about N’Golo Kanté? Not necessarily, because the talent and the physical qualities are always present. We were talking seriously about him for the Ballon d’Or barely a year ago, at the start of the Euro and when he had just been voted best player in a Champions League won by his club. Chelsea.

N’Golo Kanté, C1 in the hands

Credit: Getty Images

There is also a reassuring side, namely that it is not a recurring evil in the same place which prevents Kanté from responding. We can then imagine that it is simply a succession of bad passes. In the worst of bad luck, like the Covid, and in better days to come, “NG” will be back to its best.

In the 4-2-3-1 of the Blues, which seems with this month of June to keep the favors of “DD”, his profile and his association with Pogba make Kanté an untouchable. But beware of the traffic jam all the same. With the express emergence of Tchouameni as a manager, the upcoming return of the essential Paul Pogba, as well as the youngest who nevertheless seize their chance like Boubacar Kamara, solid Friday in Austria (1-1), Kanté must be careful not to compromise his starting place for the month of November and the trip to Qatar. He still has to be available to defend her by then…

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