N’Golo Kante is a “big deal” for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, who insists the midfielder is “fundamental” to his plans this season.
The 29-year-old Frenchman, a two-time Premier League champion with Leicester City and Chelsea, managed only 20 Premier League starts during an injury-ravaged 2019-20 season.
He played in a variety of roles during a total of 28 appearances in all competitions and fulfilled numerous roles across the midfield.
But the summer arrivals of attacking midfielders Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech – to complement Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic – means Kante is likely to return to his more familiar defensive role.
Kante has been courted by Inter Milan, who are managed by former Blues boss Antonio Conte.
He has been linked with a number of other clubs, including Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain.
Some reports have claimed that Chelsea would be willing to sell Kante during the current transfer window.
But Lampard told BBC’s Friday Football Social: “I see those reports as well. I think pretty much every club in the world would want N’Golo Kante.
“He is an incredible player – an incredible player, and person. I certainly don’t want to lose him. He is fundamental to what I am trying to do.
“We can talk about the attacking players we have but we also have N’Golo and the work he does in midfield.
“It was a difficult year for him last year because of the injuries. He came into the season with an injury and and it was domino effect through the year which is something he hasn’t had before and was probably he culmination of of five years playing game after game after game.
“I am really excited to have him fit; he looks fresh and really fit. He is a big deal for me and so, course, I want to keep N’Golo.”