Chelsea is set to be without star French international midfielder N’Golo Kanté after the Blues confirmed the 31-year-old will be laid up in dry dock for four months after coming through his operation successfully according to Football.London’s Adam Newsom.
Earlier reports from four days ago first suggested that the Paris native and former Leicester City standout has had a major setback with a niggling hamstring injury, but that timetable has been increased an additional month which now sees Chelsea boss Graham Potter with a major headache to contend with.
France manager Didier Deschamps had already consigned himself to the notion that the defending World Cup champions would be unable to count on Kanté's services in Qatar starting next month when Les Blues aim to become just the third nation to successfully defend their crown when the 2022 World Cup begins in earnest, and that could strip the former World Cup winning international of both of the starting midfield pair from 2018 given the uncertainty surrounding Paul Pogba.
As for Chelsea, this puts the Blues down on numbers in the middle of the park at Stamford Bridge as Potter will only have trusted options in the vein of Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić as senior figures, with the jury still out on the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Conor Gallagher, and summer signing Carney Chukwuemeka - who, to his credit - has impressed internally despite not featuring regularly for the Blues in the Premier League.
Given the questions at hand and Chelsea’s inability to rectify the problem until the January window, Potter could well still turn to loan signing and Swiss international midfielder Denis Zakaria.
A former heralded midfielder at Bundesliga outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach, Zakaria failed to make an impression after his move to Juventus and arrived in west London on loan during the summer window amid the hope of finding minutes under Thomas Tuchel, who was previously a fan of his profile.
Since Tuchel’s sacking, Zakaria has not worked his way into Potter’s thinking and Chelsea is possibly exploring ending his loan stint early and shipping him back to Piedmont but the Swiss midfielder is first set for crunch talks with Potter and club co-owner Todd Boehly this week regarding his future.
The situation surrounding Kanté could - in theory - offer an avenue for Zakaria to find minutes under Chelsea’s new boss to possibly resurrect his Premier League opportunities, but given the club’s remit since Boehly’s arrival, it seems more plausible that the Blues could dip into the winter market to source a long-term solution to Kanté, who is also in the last year of his contractual terms with the Premier League side.