On Wednesday night, Ruben Loftus-Cheek tore his Achilles, and the injury rules the midfielder out of the Europa League final.
The injury came in a friendly played in the United States against Major League Soccer side New England Revolution. While the match was for a worthy and important cause, Chelsea’s management of the England international was questionable.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his Revolution counterpart Robert Kraft had organised the friendly to combat hate crimes and the global rise of anti-semitism, and the match duly raised £3.1 million for charity.
The cause was incredibly noble and necessary amid the climate of hate and violence that afflicts the Jewish community in America, where two recent shootings have tragically claimed the lives of worshippers at synagogues.
Nevertheless, the timing of the friendly could not have been worse for the Blues. Just weeks before a massive European cup final, Maurizio Sarri was handed a selection dilemma. Should he rest his star players in anticipation of the match against Arsenal, or honour the importance of the friendly with a strong side?
In the end, the Italian went for the latter, with Loftus-Cheek coming off the bench and suffering a devastating injury. All of the injury pain could have been avoided if the two sides had decided to reschedule the match for later in the summer – when most European clubs hold their pre-season tours of America.
The charity aspect of the match highlights there are far more important issues than football at stake in Massachusetts. But the point could have been made in the same manner whether the game had taken place in June or July.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, they are now without one of their key midfield generals ahead of the Europa League final, and the timing of the meaningful friendly must be questioned.