N’Golo Kante might be Chelsea’s most important player but his ongoing injury issues gives Thomas Tuchel a major headache, writes the Mirror.
That is despite the signing of Saul Niguez on loan, who brings depth to a position that is strong for the Blues.
Chelsea can be quite happy with their transfer window after bringing in the midfielder and Romelu Lukaku.
Truthfully, a striker was the top of the wish list after some difficulty in front of goal – a problem they hope the former Inter Milan star will solve.
Other than that, it was more about depth with a midfielder, a right-back and a centre-back all demanded.
Achraf Hakimi was eyed before he joined Paris Saint-Germain while a failed move for Jules Kounde also went ahead but Saul arrives to compete with a stacked midfield including Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, while the likes of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are also in the squad.
Nevertheless, it is clear who are the top two in Tuchel’s eyes – Kante and Jorginho.
Their combination saw Chelsea surge to a Champions League trophy with the Frenchman earning three Man of the Match awards against Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City on their path to glory.
The World Cup winner’s ability allowed Jorginho to play his best football for the Blues while his defence will count Kante as their favourite player.
Undoubtedly, much of Chelsea’s success over the years can be credited to the former Leicester star – who almost fulfils two duties in one.
But his growing injury problems are causing Tuchel to think about his midfield differently with his latest coming against Liverpool that forced him off at half-time.
France are not helping the situation either after taking him on international duty only to report another injury before they even played a game.
Last season, Kante was plagued by injuries that coincided with a terrible stretch of form that saw Frank Lampard lose his job.
Tuchel has a bit more credit in the bank in terms of results but a similar situation could see Roman Abramovich’s menacing figure loom once more.
Saul offers some much-needed depth that can help if and when those problems arise but to call the two of them similar players would be far from the truth.
The Spaniard can do the dirty work and has been trained in the dark arts but the master Diego Simeone.
However, the 26-year-old, at his peak, can dribble past players like they are not there – ask Bayern Munich in 2016.
Kante is now 30 and is not getting any younger – those Duracell legs will have to run out of battery some day and the signs are showing.
Saul does not go some way to solve that problem, replacing the Chelsea star is borderline impossible, and Tuchel must have a plan ready.