How many matches would make him worth £15m a season for Chelsea?

N’Golo Kante’s body is either broken or on the verge of collapse, but what are his periods between injury to Chelsea? He is still the best player in the “big matches”.

Not long ago, Chelsea had a self-imposed rule which meant they would not offer a contract of more than a year to a player over the age of 30. The logic was twofold: allowing a path for players to be promoted from the youth team; Ensure that all of their assets have a sale value.

The 30 numbers were chosen at random for no reason other than Chelsea’s desire for a hard and fast spot to differentiate their squad members. Why 30? Despite medical advances and many examples to the contrary, football is still obsessed with this age as the barrier between peak years and years of decline.

Like the metaphor of “pregnant at thirty,” the logic is illogical. You’ll be less likely to get pregnant at age 31, but there are myriad factors that are far more compelling. Genetics, physical fitness, mental health and luck: they are all more important than your age… during pregnancy And the football.

Thankfully, Chelsea woke up to having no basis for their own mandate, breaking that first for David Luiz (32) in 2019, and later for Caesar Azpilicueta (33) and Kalidou Koulibaly (31), who will be 35 and 36 respectively in the end. of their current contracts.

We could be in the age of the old footballer. 34-year-old Robert Lewandowski cost Barcelona £40m and is under contract with the Nou Camp until he was 38. They did not consider his age, instead looking at the injury record that has seen him miss less than 20 football matches in the past seven years.

Injury, not age the problem For Kante and Chelsea. The 31-year-old says he wants to end his career at Stamford Bridge and is therefore sticking with a three-year contract with an option for an extra year, rather than a two-plus-one contract. He put Chelsea on the table. As he currently endures 17 separate stints on the sidelines due to injury or illness in just over three years, the club’s caution is understandable, as is Kante’s desire for safety.

It has now come to a point where the joy of seeing Kante is at his best – as it was Against Tottenham this season, for example – diminished by the inevitability of his absence in the not too distant future. His body is now either broken or on the verge of collapse.

Had it not been for N’Golo Kante, there was little chance Chelsea would have offered him two years, let alone the three considering it. When he’s fit and playing, he’s still comfortably the best player in the club. Think of a great Chelsea performance under Thomas Tuchel and nine times out of ten, Kante was the key.

The smart thing to do was to sign a replacement for Kante, who could have played in his place when he was injured this season and ease the pain of his possible departure. They don’t. Denis Zakaria may be a good player, but Juventus would not have allowed a player with anything close to the quality of Kante to leave on loan. There are no other members of the Chelsea squad that come close to emulating Kante’s abilities.

A little bit Anywhere They are like Kanti of course. Moises Caicedo is causing a commotion Graham Potter’s arrival at Chelsea could give them an advantage in trying to sign the Brighton midfielder over their Premier League rivals. But the earliest they can sign it will be in January, when they will likely have made a decision on Kante, who will then be able to speak to potential suitors with his summer contract.

Chelsea may face the reality of Kaiseedu And the Kante is strengthening the ranks of their Premier League rivals, while they are likely taking an expensive kick on someone who has little chance of filling a gap in midfield.

Either way, it’s a huge gamble for Chelsea. Bow to Kante’s will and they could spend £45m over three years for a permanent absence. Or let him go, struggle to replace him, watch him flourish elsewhere, and retroactively come to terms with the fact that he “was the reason we were so good at those big games.”

These big matches are what Chelsea should base their decision on. The reason he remains the club’s best player is no longer about consistency, which is made impossible by his injuries, but because of his performance when it really matters.

Whether it’s worth keeping it in those big games depends on how well they do without it. They will not play Real Madrid again at the Bernabéu if they do not at least qualify for the group stage of the Champions League. The Premier League days away from Manchester United and Arsenal in April wouldn’t matter much if they didn’t win games without Kante in the meantime.

It would also require that his periods between injury coincide with those important fixtures, and that Graham Potter not feel dizzy and play with him whenever he was available.

But as with a TV show that brings back a former star to boost slashing ratings or a fast-food chain adding festive favorites to its menus to boost revenue, it’s a good idea to have a guaranteed winner in reserve. So the (only) question Chelsea has to ask is: is it worth paying Kante £15m a year to be the best player on the pitch for ten or even five of the biggest games of every season? Maybe it is, you know.