Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has reportedly turned down a two-year renewal offer from the West London club.
The World Cup winner is due to become a free agent at the end of the current season after entering the final 12 months of his contract with Graham Potter‘s side.
As things stand, Kante would be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs in January before departing Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer window.
The 31-year-old has struggled for consistent fitness over the past couple of years, and there was talk of him potentially moving on in the most recent window amid links with Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.
Kante ultimately remained on the books at Stamford Bridge, and despite his injury record, owner Todd Boehly is supposedly keen for the ex-Leicester City man to stick around a little while longer.
The Blues have apparently been dealt an early blow in their efforts to agree a new deal with Kante, as The Athletic claims that the midfielder has rejected a verbal offer of a two-year contract.
The report adds that the proposal also included an option for a third season, but Kante was not willing to accept the offer due to wanting a longer-term deal.
Chelsea were supposedly willing to table a guaranteed three-year deal with the option of an additional 12 months in 2021, but contract talks were halted when sanctions were placed on Roman Abramovich.
Concrete talks are not believed to have restarted yet, but Kante’s popularity with the Chelsea squad is a key factor in Boehly’s desire to agree a new contract with the France international.
Furthermore, Kante is said to be open to hanging up his boots at Chelsea and remains “very happy” at Stamford Bridge, but there is yet to be a breakthrough in contract talks.
Should the midfielder ultimately end his trophy-laden spell at Chelsea, other Premier League clubs – as well as teams in Spain, France and Germany – are said to be queuing up to sign him.
Kante arrived at Stamford Bridge for a £32.2m fee from Leicester in 2016 and has since made 262 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 13 goals and setting up 15 more.
In that time, the midfielder has helped the Blues win the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Club World Cup, the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup.
However, Kante has missed a further 71 matches through injury or illness and is currently sidelined by a thigh issue, which has seen him miss his side’s last five games in all tournaments.
Prior to being sacked, Thomas Tuchel admitted that Kante may not return to action until after the international break, and he has been restricted to just two appearances this season so far.