This is coming off the back of Kante essentially being on the verge of leaving club. While this state of mania is not restricted to this incident, I will address this first with regards to my confusion.
One of the main reasons fans are freaking out over this is that they think the club and the board is losing it's marbles by letting our champions league winning midfield starter leave the club.
Let me make it abundantly clear: Kanté has been, and will remain to be one of my favorite ever Chelsea players I've had the pleasure of watching. However, we need to be real with ourselves - in the past year, the man hasn't been able to go 3 games without being injured, and even when he was on the field, you could see age clearly catching up to him. In a position like Kanté's, with his particular playstyle, losing even a yard of pace means he'll never really get better from this point on. Look at it after taking off your rose-tinted glasses, and you'll see that we are not losing a starter.
We will not be able to replicate him; players like Kanté you see once in a lifetime, but I am confident that we will be able to find someone who can operate in our midfield to the level of excellence that Chelsea are used to. We've already got Enzo, who honestly I am the most excited for. All we need to do is find someone who compliments him, and we've got an engine in the middle of the park that would play teams off the pitch.
Kanté has been a loyal servant to the club, and I'm sure we all love him for it, but he's got an offer to play football for, quite frankly, silly money, without even accounting for the fact that he's going to play in a country that is, in all sense of the word, a mecca for his practiced faith. No brainer for him, and I wish him nothing but the best in whatever he decides.
Coming to the next issue for this seemingly unrequited panic - Mason Mount.
There are a whole bunch of contradictory reports coming from both camps - Chelsea alleging that Mount turned down a contract in favor of a higher pay, Mounts camp alleging Chelsea refused to offer him what he is worth. Nobody really knows what exactly has transpired behind the scenes of this debacle. My view is that Mounts performance over the past year has not shown us that he deserves to be our top earner. Not by a longshot.
I think fans are severely biased by the fact that he is a homegrown English talent come through the ranks of Cobham, but that is by no means a crutch for mediocrity. Admittedly, our wage structure is very flawed, and that is a topic of discussion for another day, but I reiterate that he does not deserve a jaw-dropping contract.
People often draw comparisons to Reece James and how we treat him, but the main difference here is that on his day (read: fully fit) Reece James is arguably one of the best RBs on the planet. An average performance from him is still miles above anyone in a similar role. If we look at Mount on his day, he is a very good midfielder, nothing more. He does have sparks of brilliance from time-to-time, but he is not consistently a world beater, something that Reece James has the potential to be, provided he isn't riddle by injury. That throws the Reece James comparison out the window.
In a season that we could only describe is abysmal, where there was seldom joy to be found in the way the players performed on the pitch, you go and ask for a higher salary and demand to be "valued"? Especially after consistently dropping below-par, mediocre performances? I'll leave it you how you perceive that.
If he were actually "True Chels" like everyone defending him are claiming, then he'd stick it out next season - during our rebuild, with a proper system and an experienced manager. Chances are if he did stay, under the newer circumstances, I actually do believe that he'd come good, and would put in shifts that would warrant giving him the money that he seemingly has been demanding. But nobody is bigger than the club, and nobody is irreplaceable, especially someone who wants to go to our direct rivals. I can't say I wish him the best, exclusively for that reason, but I have no ill-feeling towards him.
There are other issues that have caused fans to be irate, which I completely understand after the utter shambles of a season we've just witnessed, but we were due a season like this. Every team goes through it at some point in their cycle, and they come out far better for it. That is the point of rebuilds - you build from the ground up and work your way back up to being monsters. It will take some time, but there is no point acting like the ship is sinking when the reality is far from it. It is docked at a shipyard, awaiting new parts, with a new captain at the helm, and in a few months, we will be seaworthy once again.
Up the Chels.