LONDON: French midfielder N’Golo Kante, labelled the “essential element” in the World Cup-winning side by Didier Deschamps, has been offered a new five-year contract by Chelsea, according to British media reports on Tuesday.
The pocket-sized 27-year-old dynamo — who recovered the ball more often than any other team-mate during the finals in Russia — will earn £290,000 ($380,000, 325,000 euros) a week if he signs the new deal, reported The Times and the London Evening Standard.
Chelsea, who sacked Antonio Conte as manager despite winning the FA Cup after finishing outside the Champions League spots last season, want to ward off apparent interest from Qatari-owned French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
The new contract would see Kante’s pay almost doubled from his present deal — £150,000 a week — which terminates in 2021.
Kante was a pivotal figure in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign in 2016/17 under Conte after joining from Leicester City for a reported £32 million.
His move followed an equally influential role in The Foxes’ shock league-winning campaign in 2016.
Chelsea are also reported by both newspapers to be prepared to increase Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard’s weekly pay from £220,000 — at present he is the highest wage earner — to £300,000 in an effort to dissuade him from moving to Spain with Real Madrid showing an interest, although the £200-million price tag may put them off.
Hazard and fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois, who is also believed to be subject of a £35.5-million bid from Real Madrid, are due back in training this weekend after their holidays following Belgium’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.