Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has revealed how N’Golo Kante rejected the opportunity to be handed a rest for the EFL Cup tie with Brentford.
In his pre-match press conference, Tuchel had said that he ‘refused’ to take any risks on the France international, who had previously played 90 minutes against Wolverhampton Wanderers having recently recovered from injury.
However, Kante was a surprise name on the substitutes’ bench for the London derby, the midfielder playing a pivotal role during the latter stages as the Blues claimed a late 2-0 win.
Commenting on the change of heart, Tuchel has said how the 30-year-old wanted to get more minutes under his belt, rather than spend the game on the sidelines.
Tuchel is quoted by football.london as saying: “He convinced me yesterday to be on the bench which was very nice to see but not only from him, from the whole squad as well. Everybody was pushing to be on the bench or to be involved in the squad. Nobody gave me the slightest feeling that we would like to have a pause. It was very nice to see.
“N’Golo convinced me that he prefers to be on the bench and play some minutes instead of a full rest. We agreed on that in discussion with the play but in checking all his data for the last weeks. He had trained light for 20 to 25 minutes and I’ve praised him so many times. Of course he makes the difference because he’s a very very special player.”
Kante is expected to start when Chelsea take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Boxing Day.