Puel: Romeu close to Kante’s level

Southampton manager Claude Puel has heaped praise on midfielder Oriol Romeu, comparing him to influential Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante.

Romeu was a Chelsea player for four years, but spent time on loan with Valencia and Stuttgart during that period before being sold to the Saints in 2015.

Puel believes the Spaniard has similar qualities to Kante, who has claimed the PFA Player of the year award, and has an instrumental role in the team.

"I think he's not far off Kante," Puel said at his pre-match press conference, ahead of the clash with Chelsea on Tuesday. "He is very important for us. He recovers the ball so well and is a technical player.

"If we see the quality of his games since the beginning of the season, N'Golo Kante brings the same qualities as Oriol for us because he's very consistent and in every game he gives good performances, with consistency and quality.

"He's an important player for this team because he can do fantastic work to recover the ball and start the play.

"Without (Kante) for Chelsea it's difficult and the same with Romeu, it's difficult for us without him.

"We will see for the future, we are confident in him and, for me, he can look to getting in the selection with Spain, for example."