Maurizio Sarri may be rueing a risk he took with Chelsea battling for a Champions League place.
Antonio Rudiger is reportedly in Rome to undergo exploratory surgery to discover the extent of a knee injury he suffered over the weekend against Manchester United, and there are concerns his season is almost certainly over. The fear is meniscus damage, which could see him sidelined for around eight weeks.
Rudiger had been out with a knee injury after coming off 40 minutes into the 2-0 loss to Liverpool in early April. The German international was subsequently sidelined for the Europa League matchup against Slavia Prague plus the ensuing Premier League match against Burnley, but Sarri decided he needed Rudiger for the run-in to the Premier League season with Champions League play on the line, bringing him back for the game at Old Trafford.
The defender made it through 65 minutes before collapsing in real pain, and now goes under the knife with just three weeks remaining on the campaign. It would be tough to see Rudiger return unless the results came back overwhelmingly positive, at the very least missing this week’s Europa League semifinal against Eintracht Frankfurt plus the weekend’s league meeting with Watford.
That leaves Andreas Christensen as the partner to David Luiz at the back, with Sarri potentially forced to bring Gary Cahill back into the fold on the bench. Cahill has been a complete afterthought all season, playing just 23 Premier League minutes back in late September. The other option is 18-year-old academy product Ethan Ampadu who joined from Exeter City’s youth setup two years ago.
Gary Cahill is no longer first-choice at Chelsea — anything but, in fact, as he’s played just 21 minutes in the Premier League this season — and the club is prepared to allow its captain to leave on loan in January as a reward for six years of excellent service, according to a report from the Guardian.
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New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has used Cahill sparingly thus far — even leaving him out of the 18-man team for Sunday’s draw with Everton — but has praised the 32-year-old for his professionalism and influence as a valued member inside the locker room. For those reasons, Sarri is prepared to do right by one of the club’s most senior members as Cahill seeks regular first-team minutes.
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Cahill’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2020, thus a loan in January and an ensuing permanent transfer this coming summer represents the club’s final opportunity to recoup a small fee for a player who will surely garner plenty of interest from within the PL. Having paid under $9 million to sign him from Bolton in January 2012, Chelsea have gotten pretty good value for their initial investment, including two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and one Champions League and Europa League title each during Cahill’s spell at the club.
England topped Nigeria, 2-1, on Saturday at Wembley Stadium behind goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane.
The Tottenham striker doubled the England lead in the 39th minute with a venomous strike towards the near post, capping off a dominant first half from the home side.
Nigeria started off the second stanza strong, when Alex Iwobi pulled a goal back for the Super Eagles, however, England held on for the win.
It took just seven minutes for England to pull ahead, when Cahill headed the Three Lions in front from a Kieran Trippier cross.
Trippier had come close to opening his goalscoring account with England the minute prior, after testing goalkeeper Francis Uzoho with a long-distance effort.
The Three Lions will take on Costa Rica in their final send-off match before the World Cup on June 7 at Elland Road, while Nigeria takes on the Czech Republic the day prior.
Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason announced his retirement from soccer on Tuesday, over a year after suffering a fractured skull during a challenge with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.
It was an ordinary challenge that ended in horrifying fashion, and Cahill remains shook up when it comes to his part in the deal.
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Mason admitted he felt “lucky to be alive” after going head-to-head with Cahill, but returning to training in June didn’t progress to a return to the playing field.
Having made 494 senior appearances for Chelsea, Bolton, Aston Villa, Burnley, and Sheffield United, the 32-year-old Cahill has been involved in more than a few scary challenges, but nothing like this.
“Everyone realizes that was a freak season for us but we are back in it,” Gary Cahill said of Chelsea’s return to the UEFA Champions League.
The captain sounds composed enough, but his manager is striking another tone as the Blues prepare for a Tuesday visit from Qarabag.
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Antonio Conte, dare we say, sounds a bit nervous when it comes to this managerial go-round as compared to his UCL runs with Juventus.
From the BBC:
“Now I think the English team has another difficulty because the league is tough here. Before the Champions League you would rest but it is not easy in England to do this.
“We are ready and we need to rotate the players of my squad and they must be involved. We are starting a path and to build something important. You need to grow step by step to be like Real, Bayern and you don’t create a big, strong team easily.”
Maybe the first part is worth discussing, but the second is not. Though its loan strategy does deprive Chelsea of massive depth, there’s no question its 2012 UCL title is closing than it appears in Conte’s rear view mirror.
For what it’s worth, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho echoed the sentiment, though he claims it’s England’s lack of winter break which most hurts the side (and he says he likes the Christmas period).
Chelsea will have to face Atletico Madrid and Roma later in the competition, so this is a nice start for the Blues. Conte will be more concerned with Sunday’s visit from Arsenal.