(Reuters) – Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante said the Premier League team’s players were caught off guard by Roman Abramovich’s decision to sell the club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but urged them to stay focused on their quest to finish in the top four.
Russian Abramovich said on Wednesday he would sell Chelsea after 19 years amid growing calls for sanctions on the metals magnate, similar to those imposed on other Russian oligarchs, following Russia’s invasion.
Abramovich has made vast fortunes since the break-up of the Soviet Union but denies close links to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose country calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”
“It was something we were not prepared for,” Kante told Sky Sports on Thursday, referring to the announcement by Abramovich.
“It came quick, but the only thing we can do because we don’t control these things, is do as best what we have always done … playing football.
“Playing football is the best for us, for the club and for the fans … it’s the only thing that we control and we want to do that.”
Chelsea, third in the English top flight with 50 points from 25 matches, take on Burnley on Saturday.
“We are in a good position for the top four, we are fully focused on going game by game and securing that,” the French player said.
“It will not be easy as we still need to win many games but we train hard and hope to do it, starting this weekend.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)