Chelsea have been dealt a huge blow in the race for a top four spot after it was confirmed that Antonio Rudiger will miss the rest of the season.
The German international limped off in the second half of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday and had a knee surgery on Tuesday.
Rudiger is expected to be sidelined for at least 10 weeks and now faces a race to be fit for pre-season following the surgery.
The 26-year-old has been a key figure in heart of Maurizio Sarri’s defence and will now miss the final two games of the Premier League season and also the Europa League semifinal clash against German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rudiger sent a message to Chelsea fans after undergoing the surgery on Tuesday.
Rudiger wrote: “What a pity I won’t be able to help my team during the last games of the season. But my knee surgery went well and I’m already positive again.
“Thanks for all your messages and comments. And special thanks to the efforts of Professor Mariani and his team.”
Rudiger’s injury means Andreas Christensen will play alongside David Luiz in central defence for the remainder of the season.
Speaking about Rudiger’s injury after the draw against Manchester United on Sunday, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said: “The most serious situation is Antonio Rudiger with his knee. Willian is in trouble at the moment but I think it’s only a knock so we can try to recover him.
“For the next match in the Europa League probably Antonio will be out.”