N’Golo Kante

Chelsea Pulisic
Chelsea FC

Chelsea hammer QPR in friendly; Pulisic, Kante play

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Chelsea hammered QPR 7-1 in a friendly at Stamford Bridge, as USMNT star Christian Pulisic featured for the Premier League side.

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The west London club beat Reading 1-0 earlier this week in a game at their Cobham training ground and they followed that up with a resounding victory against another Championship opponent.

Billy Gilmour and Ruben Loftus-Cheek each scored twice, while Willian, Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud were all on the scoresheet.

Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante featured, as the USMNT star continues to step up his recovery after last playing for Chelsea on Jan. 1 at Brighton. An adductor injury in training meant he was out for several months and he was due to return in mid-March before the Premier League was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulisic has featured in both friendlies this week and Frank Lampard certainly has a wealth of attacking options now that Loftus-Cheek has also returned from a long-term injury. Chelsea currently sit in fourth but are just three points ahead of Man United in fifth and may only be two points ahead of Sheffield United by the time they restart their 2019-20 season.

The suspension came at a good time for the Blues as Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and several others were nursing injuries and not fully fit as Lampard’s young squad looked jaded with many in their first full season in the Premier League.

Even better news for Chelsea was N’Golo Kante taking part in a friendly for the first time since the league was suspended on March 13. The French star was concerned about a return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic and was granted compassionate leave by Chelsea and Frank Lampard.

Kante has since returned to training and is now stepping up his progress as he aims to be ready to feature against Aston Villa next Sunday (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Transfer rumors: Kante to Real, Sancho to Liverpool

Sancho to Liverpool
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There are big big names in the Premier League’s transfer gossip mill on Saturday, with updates on moves for Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek and a possible sale of two-time PL winner N’Golo Kante.

[ MORE: New PL schedule ]

Le10sport has a sensational story claiming Liverpool is ready to spend big on Jadon Sancho if Sadio Mane is sold this summer.

Sancho just turned 20 in March has been heavily connected with a move to Manchester United. He’s one of only four players in Europe’s top five leagues to collect double-digit goals (17) and assists (16) in league play (Lionel Messi, Alassane Plea, Serge Gnabry).

The England international’s fee is said to be $135 million, steep but rational given his age and similar sales. United has been reported to have backup options if Sancho does not wind up at Old Trafford but a Liverpool move would be a blow.

Any questions about a change in level should be answered by his success in Europe. Sancho’s scored or assisted against Barcelona, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, and Slavia Prague.

Mane has been wonderful but turned 28 in April. His four seasons with Liverpool are the most with one club in his career after two in Southampton, three with Red Bull Salzburg, and one with Metz in France.

Chelsea could look to fund its pursuit of Kai Havertz by allowing N’Golo Kante to be sold to Real Madrid, according to AS.com.

Kante turned 29 in March and has suffered from injuries this year but remains one of the best midfielders in the world. Chelsea, however, has faith in developing players like Billy Gilmour and may want to cash in on Kante at the end of the World Cup winner’s prime.

The cost would be around $90 million, no small fee even for Madrid especially after their massive outlay on Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Rodrygo, and Reinier Jesus since last summer.

Ronald de Boer offered some interesting and pointed comments about Ajax star Donny van de Beek potentially moving to Manchester United over Real Madrid.

Van de Beek has long been linked with Madrid but the move is reportedly in question due to finances and the uncertainty over the transfer market during the coronavirus pandemic.

De Boer took a shot at Paul Pogba in endorsing the idea of Van de Beek joining United (via Sky Sports).

“Solskjaer has indicated that he wants to go in a new direction and wants players who are humble, their heart is with the club, a team player. I think he is tired of the Pogba’s running around. He wants players like Donny van de Beek.”

That’s an unnecessary bit of shade there, Ron.

Kante returns to Chelsea training after compassionate leave

Kante returns to Chelsea
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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N’Golo Kante is back at Chelsea training in a heaping helping of good news for Frank Lampard.

Chelsea granted Kante compassionate leave last month upon the London club’s return to training from the coronavirus pause.

[ MORE: New PL schedule ]

The World Cup winner tested negative for COVID-19 but reports say he was uneasy about returning and was particularly concerned about the health of his family.

Kante’s brother died from a heart attack in the summer of 2018 and the coronavirus has taken a disproportionate toll on the black community.

[ MORE: Chelsea season restart preview ]

He’s battled injuries this season, playing in 22 matches with three goals. Chelsea plays four times between June 21 and July 1, so every piece is going to be key to the Blues push to stay in the top four.

Kante has twice finished in the top eleven in Ballon d’Or voting and has claimed Premier League titles with Chelsea and Leicester City. When fit, he’s unequivocally one of the most impactful players in the world.

Chelsea star Kante granted compassionate leave

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N’Golo Kante has been granted compassionate leave by Chelsea as the French superstar has fears about returning to training.

Per a report from ESPN, no timeframe has been given for Kante to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kante, 29, requested to miss small-group training at Chelsea’s Cobham training base and the club are said to be understanding of his situation and have allowed him to train on his own at home.

It is also believed Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi did not take part in sessions at their training base on Wednesday as he felt unwell, but he has tested negative for COVID-19 following his initial previous positive test back in March. Hudson-Odoi has been prescribed medication and earlier this week various reports stated he was arrested on suspicion of rape.

As for Kante, he did not train on Wednesday and Thursday after returning to the small group sessions on Tuesday.  The World Cup winner tested negative for COVID-19 but is thought to feel uneasy about returning to playing in June and is particularly concerned about the health of his family.

Kante’s brother died in the summer of 2018 from a heart attack and the Chelsea star is unwilling to put himself or his family members at risk.

Troy Deeney hasn’t returned to training at Watford this week over concerns about the health of his family too, while several clubs, managers and players continue to be hesitant as clubs take tentative steps back towards resuming the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs unanimously agreed to a return to small-group training from Tuesday, as players and club staff were tested on Sunday and Monday for COVID-19. The Premier League have released a statement saying that 748 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19 on Sunday and Monday and six positive tests have been confirmed across three clubs.

Those clubs where positive tests have been confirmed will still be able to move forward with small-group training as individuals were tested over the past few days before groups returned to training bases. Those who have tested positive will self-isolate for seven days and their names will not be released.

Premier League CEO Richard Masters has said the possible restart date for games on June 12 is a flexible one and that plans for games to return can only happen as and when the league, clubs, players, the UK government and medical staff agree on how they can restart contact training in larger groups.

Next week is a key week for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plan as clubs are due to meet on Tuesday (May 26) to discuss a return to full contact training, then again on Thursday (May 28) to vote on whether or not to restart the season.

Premier League social media wrap: Returning players pumped, others wait

Premier League social media
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We know it’s far from a universal vibe, but a large number of Premier League players were quite happy to be arriving to and playing on the training pitches of England on Tuesday.

The coronavirus pause is not over, but players are now allowed to train in small groups in the PL.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It was good to see Dele Alli smiling and looking healthy after he was robbed and punched last week.

American fans might’ve been distracted by the sight of a smiling and reportedly healthy Christian Pulisic at Chelsea training, but look closer.

Kepa Arrizabalaga’s hair is unusually long, as is N’Golo Kante (because we’re not used to seeing him with much at all).

Toni Rudiger was also pumped to be back, and his post allowed us to catch influential but injury-hampered Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Let’s hope the midfielder is ready to return to the pitch and make his first appearance since tearing his Achilles tendon in a friendly against New England that cost him an Europa League Final appearance.

Spurs loanee Kyle Walker-Peters was back training with Southampton, though he had a sort of era-appropriate PPE covering his face (and a coach in the background going with the mask).

Not all of Newcastle United and Man City players aren’t back yet, and there’s some serious FOMO from a few of their players.

Up north, it’s goalkeeper Martin Dubravka getting fully kitted and fitted… at home.

And Man City minute-eater Fernandinho hasn’t yet returned, but he’s ready…