Chelsea will play Real Madrid this evening in an enormous Champions League quarter-final, which remains the Blues’ last remaining shot at avoiding a trophyless campaign.
Frank Lampard’s appointment as caretaker manager was intended to raise the morale of this dispirited club, but his return to the Chelsea dugout was anti-climatic as the Blues fell to a hugely disheartening defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.
The 44-year-old will be keen to reverse the fortunes of the West London outfit and unleashing N’Golo Kante at the Santiago Bernabeu could be the perfect method to resurrect this underperforming team.
Why should Lampard start Kante against Real Madrid?
The 32-year-old has been absent for over six months after injuring his hamstring in a fiery London derby against Spurs in August 2022.
However, the 53-cap international made his long-awaited return to the Chelsea squad in Graham Potter’s final game in charge against Aston Villa. He then appeared in the starting line up in a stalemate with fellow strugglers Liverpool just eight days ago and reminded the Stamford Bridge faithful of what they’ve desperately lacked this season.
In a 70-minute cameo, the Frenchman recorded 42 touches, a 92.3% pass completion rate, three key passes, and tackles, created two big chances, and won five ground duels, as per Sofascore. He almost looked back to his effervescent best and was reminiscent of the form he showed in the 2021 knockouts when Chelsea clinched their second Champions League title.
Furthermore, Lampard opted to rest the 2018 World Cup winner for the loss at Molineux, and the dynamism, athleticism, and energy that Kante endlessly offers was painfully missed. His absence for the majority of the term is a major part of the reason for Chelsea’s shocking slump into midtable mediocrity.
Since signing for the Blues for £32m in 2016, when fit the £290k-per-week engine has undoubtedly been one of the most consistent and influential players in the whole of Europe.
This has also been recognised by his former teammate Cesc Fabregas, who labelled the former Leicester City man as a “world-class player.”
Kante’s experience will be pivotal if Chelsea is to contain Real Madrid’s ruthlessly dominant midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Federico Valverde.
Wayne Rooney is another generational player who has showered the £18m-rated gem with praise and described him as the “best midfielder in the world.”
It is almost a no-brainer to include a player of such high calibre in arguably the Blues’ biggest game of the season as they attempt to salvage some pride from this nightmare campaign.