Chelsea must accept their financial fate with N'Golo Kante

Kante has struggled with injuries this season
Kante has struggled with injuries this season / Visionhaus/GettyImages

He is one of the best midfielders - maybe even one of the best players - of the last decade. But with injuries catching up to him and his contract running out, Chelsea's options regarding N'Golo Kante appear slim.

The 31-year-old has made just two Premier League appearances this season, in the Blues' opening two fixtures against Everton and Tottenham. While he performed well in these games - particularly in the 2-2 draw against Spurs - Kante has been out ever since with a hamstring injury. In fact, he's been out so long that Chelsea have even changed managers since his last appearance, with Kante still yet to make an appearance under new boss Graham Potter.

Kante would also have been a key part of France's World Cup squad this winter, had he been able to stay fit. Unfortunately, his injury meant he could play no part, instead watching from home as his teammates battled to a second consecutive final in the competition.

All of this leaves the former Leicester City midfielder's career at something of a crossroads. Kante is a tremendous footballer, a ball-winner with the energy and game-reading ability to often appear to be doing two jobs at once. He was the beating heart of Leicester's 2015/16 title-winning side, and repeated the feat for Chelsea the following season. But time appears to be catching up with him.

Kante has left everything on the pitch in the Premier League for the past seven years, and a style so heavily based on intense running and crunching tackles was always going to take its toll sooner or later. Injuries have crept up on the midfielder over the years, ruling him out for longer and longer periods as he gets older.

Though Kante is a Chelsea legend and an icon of the modern game, sometimes sentiment has to be put to one side. Football is a business, a numbers game, and a player earning a reported £290,000 per week despite missing four months of action at a time is a financial black hole. Maybe Chelsea could afford to take a hit like this during the days of Roman Abramovich, but new owner Todd Boehly will be keen to cut costs wherever he can as he reshapes the club in his image.

Kante's contract expires in the summer of 2023, meaning Chelsea can do nothing and move him on for free in six months' time. While it feels sad and even kind of wrong to let such an immense player leave on a free transfer, in Kante's case it could be the best move for all parties.

Chelsea need to revamp their ageing midfield, and freeing up nearly £300,000 per week from their wage bill will help a great deal with that. Meanwhile, Kante would have the chance to regain his fitness and place in the French squad, perhaps without the same pressure that comes with the territory of being a Chelsea player.

The Premier League will miss him, and certainly never forget him - but Kante's time in the sun could be coming to an end.