N’Golo Kanté is close to giving Chelsea a major boost by signing a new contract as he edges closer to a first-team return.
Chelsea have been holding talks with Kanté to extend his deal beyond this season and are confident the deal will be closed.
Kanté must be out of contract at the end of the season and the midfielder has been linked with moves to Barcelona and Paris St-Germain.
But the French World Cup winner is thought to be settled in London and appears set to stay at Chelsea, where he has won every trophy available except the League Cup.
Keeping Kanté would be a huge boost for Chelsea, who also extended defender Thiago Silva’s contract at the end of the season this month.
Kanté warmed up with the first-team squad on Tuesday morning as Chelsea began preparations for Sunday’s London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
It is understood Kanté did not take part in the full group session, but the 31-year-old is close to returning to full first-team training.
Chelsea hope Kanté will be available to play again in March, having been sidelined since August after undergoing hamstring surgery.
Kanté is yet to play a single game for under-pressure boss Graham Potter, who stuck to his plan to give his players two days off after the Southampton game, despite Chelsea suffering a damaging defeat.
Cesar Azpilicueta suffered concussion during the Southampton game and was taken to hospital, but returned to Chelsea’s training ground at Cobham on Tuesday.
Chelsea released a statement saying: “Following a concussion injury sustained during Saturday’s game against Southampton, Cesar Azpilicueta has been released from hospital and is recovering well at Cobham.
“César’s condition is being closely monitored by the club’s medical team, adhering to the important concussion protocols in place to ensure his safety. Caesar watched training today [Tuesday]before starting work to get back on the pitch.”