Two big names absent from Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States are N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, whose absences were explained by an informal mention on Chelsea’s official website that they are not vaccinated (and therefore not allowed to enter the United States) .
But of course there are much bigger issues at play here, not only in terms of deciding not to get vaccinated, but also in terms of not being physically fit after two weeks of preparation, training, conditioning, of team building. And while they continued to train with the development squad (and featured in Friday’s 4-2 friendly win at Boreham Wood), it’s not quite the same as being with Thomas Tuchel and the rest of the first team.
The head coach is of course not the happiest with this situation, which is entirely out of his control. Although individual choices can be respected, in this case they have had (relatively slight) damage to the team, and it will not be an ideal situation anyway.
“N’Golo is preparing with Ruben. You can’t force them (to get vaccinated). It is currently a completely normal decision to get vaccinated. Both players made the decision not to.
“We have to follow the rules, so they can’t join us. They know the consequences. We don’t like that, of course not. We would like to have them here and it is not an ideal solution. Far from ideal. But once the situation is like that, you need to find a solution.
“So they have their coaches there (in England). They have coaches from us who take care of it. They train with the under-23s, but they also go to the United States, so they go with the under-19s so as not to be completely out of the group. But it won’t make up for it, it won’t be the same.
We feel that the situation is perhaps more prejudicial for Loftus-Cheek, the place of Kanté in the workforce being obviously well assured. RLC’s versatility was helpful last season, but the overall narrative was more of a broken promise than an indispensable character. For NG, we might even be able to put a positive spin on things.
“For N’Golo, that might not even be the worst thing to do, so we can give him a very individual charge. A very, very individualized charge for him. So maybe we can turn a disadvantage into an advantage
“I don’t think he, in particular, needs a lot of time to adapt to our game because N’Golo is N’Golo and everyone is aware that he is a key player and he has to be a key player if you want to win big stuff.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Telegraph
Chelsea return to Europe in just over a week, after which we only have two weeks left before the start of the season. Here’s hoping we can all get to work, despite the vaccination status.