Chelsea have been handed a significant injury blow ahead of the visit of the Reds for the season opener this weekend.
Christopher Nkunku is set to miss out on the showdown at Stamford Bridge this Sunday having suffered meniscus damage to his left knee during pre-season.
The French international joined Chelsea from RB Leipzig at the start of the summer in a deal worth around £52 million, with the Blues’ new No. 10 having netted 23 times in 36 appearances in all competitions last season.
Liverpool will get their 2023/24 campaign underway in the capital this Sunday, where new Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino will be without his new signing.
Chelsea have confirmed on their official website that Nkunku has undergone surgery and that the forward will be out for an “extended period” as he begins his rehabilitation.
The Guardian have reported that Chelsea are currently optimistic that the 25-year-old will be sidelined for a matter of “weeks rather than months” but that he isn’t expected to be involved this weekend.
The injury sustained in Chelsea‘s 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund isn’t the squad’s only casualty of the summer, with Wesley Fofana set for a lengthy spell away from the action after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery.
The defender did not travel to America for the side’s pre-season tour and has since been ruled out for several months with the club confirming last month that an operation was needed.
Forward Noni Madueke is a doubt for the clash as he nurses a thigh injury, while defender Trevor Chalobah may also miss out having picked up a knock in their friendly meeting with Fulham.
Armando Broja is still working his way back from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained in December and Sunday is likely to come too soon for his competitive return, while Benoit Badiashile isn’t scheduled to be back until after the September international break.
Liverpool rounded off their pre-season with a 3-1 win over Bundesliga side Darmstadt at Deepdale and will now turn their attention to the start of their season on Sunday afternoon.
It is a tricky opener for the Reds and a fixture that has finished goalless after 90 minutes in each of the last four meetings.
History looks unlikely to repeat itself if Liverpool’s pre-season is anything to go by, with goals flying in at both ends as Jurgen Klopp‘s side scored 18 and conceded 11 across their five summer friendlies.
Chelsea likely XI: Kepa; James, Silva, Colwill, Chilwell; Gallagher, Enzo; Sterling, Chukwuemeka, Mudryk; Jackson