Chelsea need to be doing all they can to keep N’Golo Kante on their books, claims Dennis Wise, with the World Cup winner considered to still be the “main person” for the Blues in the middle of the park.
A France international who enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence on the back of a 2015 move to Leicester has seen the odd question asked of his future in west London.
Despite being a two-time Premier League title winner and PFA Player of the Year, form and fitness issues have impacted on Kante’s game in recent times.
Only 27 appearances have been taken in this season, with Frank Lampard often looking to alternative options for inspiration in his engine room.
Real Madrid are said to be rekindling their interest in a player who has registered on their radar for some time.
Wise, though, believes that Kante remains key to Chelsea’s future plans and feels it would be a big mistake if the 29-year-old were to be allowed to move on.
Asked about Lampard’s midfield options in a Q&A session set up by the Blues’ sponsor Three, former Stamford Bridge skipper Wise told Express Sport: "I would say the main person is Kante, for sure, and then you can have a mixture of [Mateo] Kovacic, [Ross] Barkley or [Mason] Mount.
"I think it would be out of those four to make up the three which sit in there [in a 4-3-3 formation].
"Mason Mount has done extremely well, and Barkley has gone through a spell of really doing well. It's difficult to give you the three, but one of them for sure is Kante. I think he is so important to the team to sit in there.
"You've also got [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek and young [Billy] Gilmour, so they're quality players.
"Loftus-Cheek has obviously been out for a while and it would be unfair to all of a sudden try and push him into that category (alongside the main four players). And the young boy Billy Gilmour, just because he's so young and developing, I think you've got to give him time.
"I think definitely Kante and then two out of the three that I mentioned - Kovacic, Barkley and Mount. It's a great problem to have.
"Mount has done extremely well in spells, and so has Barkley and so has Kovacic - it's very difficult to break them up."
A hamstring complaint has been keeping Kante sidelined of late, forcing him to sit out important Premier League matches in an ongoing bid to wrap up a top-four finish and progress to the 2020 FA Cup final.