Thomas Tuchel admits he is feeling ‘lucky’ to work with N’Golo Kante at Chelsea having been ‘desperate’ to sign the midfielder during his time at Paris Saint-Germain.
Kante is set to make his first starting appearance under the new Chelsea head coach with a return to the side for tonight’s FA Cup fifth-round clash at Barnsley, the France international having not started since suffering a hamstring injury against Manchester City last month.
Tuchel admits he is delighted to see the 29-year-old return to action and has lavished praise on the World Cup-winning star, admitting Kante is a player that ‘fits into every manager’s plans on the planet’ and revealing how he was interested in signing the midfielder for PSG.
“This is very easy because I think N’Golo fits into every manager’s plans on the planet,” the German said at his pre-match press conference.
“I was desperate to have him in my teams. He is a Chelsea player, a big Chelsea player and one of the best midfielders in the world. Now I am so lucky to have him in my squad. I am so lucky that he is back again.
“When you look at his performances coming back from injury – we put him on the pitch against Tottenham with no minutes before which was really difficult – he just did what he always does. He helped everybody around him on the pitch with his support, mentality and his quality.
“And if you see the step that he took between the Tottenham match, OK, in training you didn’t see, but in the 20 minutes against Sheffield was a huge performance when we switched to a three in the midfield.
“This was very important to escape the pressure and be in control of the game again. I am very, very impressed. I know him for many years, we know him very well because we came from a French club, so we were very impressed on television.
“But to see the guy live, to see how he works, how humble he is and what quality he gives to this team, it is a gift to be his coach. I am super happy. He will start tomorrow. For me his best position is a double six. He can play single six but his strength is also to have a kind of freedom in his game.”