Ruben Loftus-Cheek

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Sarri: Kante given a 50/50 chance to play in UEL final

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It will be a game time decision to see whether N'Golo Kante plays in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday evening in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Speaking to the assembled media at the Olympic Stadium, the site of the final vs. London rivals Arsenal, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stated that after suffering a knee injury in training Kante has a 50% chance of playing in the final.

After losing both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to long-term, season-ending injuries in recent weeks, it’s another blow for the Blues to lose Kante, the man who was key to back to back Premier League titles, first with Leicester City and next with Chelsea. While Kante has been playing a different role this season, as a right central midfielder in Sarri’s 4-3-3, he’s still a World Cup winner and it would be a blow to any team to have to replace him.

Chelsea must hope that either Kante is somehow fit enough to start the match, or even if he’s only able to go 30 minutes, that he comes on and helps secure a victory, holding onto a lead. However, there’s also a strong likelihood that he won’t be available at all, though he could be in the 18 as a decoy.

Sarri: Pulisic can be ‘very important’ for Chelsea

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Maurizio Sarri is very happy to have Christian Pulisic at Chelsea.

[ MORE: Pulisic’s American mission ]

Whether or not the Italian coach will get to work with Pulisic next season is another matter, but Sarri was more enthusiastic about the 20-year-old USMNT playmaker this time around compared to when he spoke when the $73 million transfer was initially completed in January.

Speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan next week, Sarri revealed he has high hopes for Pulisic.

“I spoke with him two or three months ago. Pulisic knows very well our team, our way of playing, the team-mates. He is ready to join the group,” Sarri said. “I didn’t know the deal was done when he signed but before that I told my opinion to the club. My opinion was really very positive about Christian. He is a very young player, of course, but he is very strong. I am very happy. He has the possibility to improve more. He can become a very important player for us.”

Pulisic’s style of play certainly slots in with Sarri’s philosophy, as he loves his players to have plenty of touches on the ball with quick passing and moving. Pulisic’s supreme dribbling ability will also give Chelsea an extra weapon.

The stars have somewhat aligned for Pulisic to make an instant impact at Chelsea during the 2019-20 season.

In January the situation around Eden Hazard wasn’t as clear as it is now (Hazard seems highly likely to leave for Real Madrid this summer), plus both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have suffered serious injuries in the last few weeks and Gonzalo Higuain seems unlikely to stay at Chelsea on loan next season.

That means Pulisic, Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud are Chelsea’s main attackers for the start of the season and with Chelsea currently amid a transfer ban for this summer and January 2020, the USMNT star will get a chance to become a regular in the PL and Champions League for Chelsea.

Chelsea could bring back Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and several other loanees to help boost their squad, but it appears that if Sarri remains in charge, Pulisic will get a good run of games early in his Chelsea career.

Loftus-Cheek injured in Chelsea’s friendly v. New England

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek ruptured his Achilles in Chelsea’s 3-0 friendly win against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.

Chelsea have since revealed RLC will undergo surgery and that almost certainly means he will be out for at least six months.

This is a cruel blow for the Englishman, just as he had established himself in the first team at Chelsea.

England manager Gareth Southgate left Loftus-Cheek out of his latest squad and said RLC will miss the upcoming Europa League and UEFA Nations League finals after he left the stadium on crutches and with a protective boot on his left foot.

The powerful midfielder went down under no contact on the pitch in the first half, as he seemed to twist his left ankle in the turf and damaged his Achilles.

Loftus-Cheek, 23, has become a regular starter for Chelsea in recent months and we expected to be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for their UEFA Nations League semifinal against the Netherlands on June 6.

Chelsea’s post-season friendly, named “Final Whistle to Hate” raised money for charities combating hate as the west London club continues to focus on the ongoing battle against anti-semitism.

Ross Barkley scored in either half and either side of Olivier Giroud‘s header, as Chelsea used the game as a training exercise ahead of their UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 29.

Many questioned why first team players were asked to travel to Boston to play in this game just over a week before a major European final, including Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.

And and a serious injury, especially to a player who has become as important as Loftus-Cheek, is the last thing Chelsea would have wanted from this friendly game.

Chelsea players drop latest Hazard hint

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Chelsea are currently training in Boston ahead of their charity match against the New England Revolution on Wednesday, and plenty of their players have been asked to focus on one of the main questions in world soccer right now.

‘So, what is going on with Eden Hazard?’

That’s fair enough, as Chelsea’s next few seasons depends heavily on whether or not the Belgian superstar is going to sign a new deal (unlikely) or head to Real Madrid this summer (highly likely).

After their final game of the Premier League season Hazard said publicly that he has told Chelsea what he wants to do, and with just one year left on his current contract it is believed he wants to join Real Madrid this summer and play for Zinedine Zidane.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports about Hazard’s future, Chelsea’s Brazilian center back David Luiz mentioned his experience and a cycle being finished…

“I want him to stay, of course, he’s a great player and I want to play with the best,” Luiz said. “But he has to decide. I decided for myself when I left Chelsea for PSG. It was not easy for me but it was a decision I took in the moment because my cycle was finished here. I was trying to feel a different challenge and everybody respected that. So just respect him also. He has to decide for himself. He is a great player and a great friend of mine. He came here as a little boy and now he is one of the best players in the world. I wish him all the best, I just hope he can stay with us.”

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek echoed Luiz’s sentiments, but there is a growing sense that the west London club are prepping for Hazard’s impending departure.

“Everyone at the club wants him to stay; players, fans, staff and manager included,” Loftus-Cheek said. “He is such a talent and a player who has contributed to the club massively over the past seven years, the titles he has helped the club win. Everyone has enjoyed watching him play over the past seven years so I’m sure the club thanks him for what he’s done. If he does decide to move on, we wish him all the best.”

These comments are similar in nature and it seems as though Chelsea’s players are resigned to losing Hazard after their UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 29.

What can Chelsea do in this situation? The best thing to do is get as much money as they can from Real for Hazard, but they are backed into a little bit of a corner.

With their appeal against a transfer ban until July 2020 upheld — Chelsea have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is their final chance to overturn the sanction for breaking rules over signing overseas players under the age of 18 — the Blues may decide to keep Hazard for next season despite his desire to leave.

Chelsea would likely want $140 million for him this summer, but will Real pay that? They know they can get Hazard for free in the summer of 2020, as they could also agree that deal from Jan. 1, 2020. This situation promises to be the transfer saga of the summer, and it is all about valuations. How much would it actually cost Chelsea to cash in on Hazard while he still has some value? And will Real draw this out as they always seem to do?

This is a tricky one. Do you keep a player who wants to leave against his will and then let him leave on a free next summer? Or do you sell him now and risk not qualifying for the Champions League next season? The latter could produce an even larger financial headache for Chelsea to solve.

Decisions. Decisions. The clock is ticking for Chelsea, Real Madrid and Hazard, but if the comments from his teammates are anything to go by, there is only one outcome here.

Hazard, Kepa, Giroud train with Chelsea at Harvard

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Chelsea has brought a strong squad to the Boston, Massachusetts area to take part in a friendly match to raise awareness and funds to fight antisemitism and hate around the world.

Chelsea is in the U.S. as part of a charity match titled the “Final Whistle on Hate,” which was set up by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft. Both owners are Jewish and the game was set up shortly after the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Proceeds from the match will be donated to 15 different anti-hate organizations, including the Anti Defamation League, Kick it Out, and the Holocaust Education Trust. Both Kraft and Abramovich have pledged to donate $1 million each.

Ahead of the match, Chelsea is spending time training at Harvard University’s facilities, meeting with fans both at training and at a Boston Chelsea fan club event on Monday evening.

Here’s Chelsea’s squad for the match against the New England Revolution, set for Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. Chelsea still has two weeks before heading to Baku, Azerbaijan for the Europa League final against London rival Arsenal.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Rob Green, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Gonzalo Higuain, Eden Hazard, Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Olivier Giroud, Davide Zappacosta, Willian, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Ike Ugbo, Trevoh Chalobah, Conor Gallagher.