Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel backs ‘top guy’ N’Golo Kante to play key role in Champions League bid


Thomas Tuchel has backed N’Golo Kante to complete his set of football’s top prizes as Chelsea chase Champions League glory.

Kante has lifted the Premier League with Leicester and Chelsea, and the World Cup with France, but Europe’s top club crown has so far avoided him.

The 30-year-old will assume a pivotal role in Chelsea’s semi-final second leg with Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge, with the scores locked at 1-1 from the first encounter.

Asked if completing the set by winning the Champions League would elevate Kante’s career to new heights, Tuchel said: “Where to? Where to elevate?

“The guy is a top guy, and he is the guy you need to win trophies, obviously, that’s why we’re so, so happy he’s here. I was fighting for this player and dreaming about this player in any club I was coaching. And now he’s my player.

“He’s won every trophy except for the Champions League, hopefully he will do everything to get this trophy. For me he’s an example, and an unbelievable input for any team in the world. He’s key and he will be key tomorrow, and I hope in the best way possible.”

Kante’s tireless performances have had Tuchel purring ever since the German walked through the Stamford Bridge door.

Tuchel praised Kante for being the personification of letting his feet do his talking, with his homespun attitude belying his superstar abilities.

“He still needs to accept that I cuddle him, I do that a lot! I need it for myself, so he has to live with it!” joked Tuchel.

“He’s a nice guy, almost shy, he’s quiet, he likes his own quality time, he’s not loud. I see him smile a lot, and he will interact with anybody but on his own terms. He’s very shy but very polite, and I’m so happy that players like him exist. And to express yourself by pure performance, it’s a pleasure to watch.”

Mateo Kovacic has failed to shake off his hamstring injury in time for Wednesday’s clash, but the ex-Real Madrid midfielder is Chelsea’s sole injury absentee.

Toni Rudiger will wear a mask to be able to play despite suffering a recent facial injury.

PA

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