James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
Chelsea have suffered a major setback ahead of the UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal on May 29, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek suffered a potentially serious injury in a 3-0 friendly win over New England Revolution that could sideline him for months.
Per the Mirror‘s Matt Maltby, the midfielder caught his boot on the turf and was visibly in pain as he was helped off the pitch. Sports writer Dan Levene shared a photo of the 23-year-old on crutches and wearing a protective boot after the match:
Dan Levene @danlevene
Ruben Loftus-Cheek leaves the Gillette Stadium on crutches, and wearing a protective boot.
This is dreadful to see. https://t.co/9M3oiwhhft
Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard later reported the injury as a ruptured Achilles tendon, which would sideline him for months. More tests will take place to determine the exact nature of the issue, but he is reportedly certain to miss the final. He also won’t play for England in next month’s UEFA Nations League finals.
Per Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella, the Blues could be short on midfielders for the final, as N’Golo Kante could also miss out:
Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella
Chelsea could be without both him and Kante for the midfield in the Europa League final against Arsenal. It would leave them with just three fit senior midfielders. Barkley, Jorginho and Kovacic. #CFC
Chelsea played the friendly as part of their Say No To Antisemitism campaign, and manager Sarri had voiced concerns his players could have used some rest ahead of the contest, per Maltby. Ross Barkley scored twice, and Olivier Giroud also got on the board in the win.
Loftus-Cheek replaced Mateo Kovacic at half-time. After his injury, academy starlet Conor Gallagher got his chance in midfield.
ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey believed the odd timing of the friendly meant the risk of injury ahead of arguably Chelsea’s biggest match of the season was always there:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
I’d be very surprised if that isn’t the end of Loftus-Cheek’s season. The reason for this friendly is unimpeachable but the timing always left the possibility for something like this. Sarri was right to be worried #cfc
Loftus-Cheek forced his way into Sarri’s plans with some outstanding play this season, using the Europa League to work his way up the pecking order. While he made just six Premier League starts, he’s been a regular in all competitions since the start of April, enjoying the type of breakout many hoped he would.
Blessed with excellent versatility and an all-around skill set in central midfield, Loftus-Cheek has scored four goals in Europe this season, including the opener in the return leg of the semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Blues won on penalties to qualify for the final.
Per Transfermarkt, Loftus-Cheek struggled with injuries while on loan at Crystal Palace last season. He hasn’t missed much time this season, although a persistent back issue has taken its toll, per Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Mail.
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