Could this be Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s breakthrough season at Chelsea?
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, looked quite impressive on his season-long loan spell at Crystal Palace in the previous season. Palace manager, Roy Hodgson, made full use of his potential as a growing talent and played him across multiple positions in the midfield, often as a free floater.
With new signings Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in the mix, it looked like it was going to be yet another season on loan for Loftus-Cheek. With Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante in the mix, Chelsea already have a lot of competition when it comes to the central areas of the park.
However, as per The Telegraph, Chelsea are keen on keeping the English talent at Stamford Bridge and manager Maurizio Sarri has backed him to compete for the minutes in spite of stiff competition in the midfield.
This decision can be considered as a masterstroke by Sarri and the Chelsea think-tank. Retaining Loftus-Cheek among the ranks would not only increase their squad depth but also allow the youngster to train with some of the best players around.
In Sarri, Loftus-Cheek will have a reassuring hand on his shoulders which could do a world of good to his confidence. Sarri is also known for nurturing and moulding young talents into superstars, as is evident from the rise of Jorginho.
Not disagreeing with the fact that he is unlikely to be a regular starter for Chelsea, being at Stamford Bridge and getting limited action will surely aid the youngster’s learning curve. Even if Sarri cannot provide him with regular game time in the cup games, Loftus-Cheek will definitely receive ample opportunities in the FA Cup and the Europa League.
The 22-year-old’s dynamic abilities on the ball can prove to be an asset to Chelsea when the regular starters fail to deliver the goods. Standing at 6 ft 3 inches, he not only excels in the air but also boasts excellent positional sense.
With his physicality and toughness, he could be deployed as a central midfielder who often ventures forward and joins the attacks.
With Alvaro Morata looking out of sorts once again, Chelsea are in dire need of attackers who can score and Loftus-Cheek can play as a supporting striker in times of desperation. Kante may be a better box-to-box midfielder and Fabregas is definitely valued for his experience but Loftus-Cheek’s exuberance, versatility and energy will prove to be a refreshing change.
Kovacic may or may not stay beyond one season and Barkley hasn’t quite cemented his place in the starting line-up. Fabregas isn’t getting any younger either.
Hence, Loftus-Cheek is at a vital stage since a good season could help him secure his future at Chelsea and become a regular starter next season. However if he doesn’t live up to his potential, it won’t be long before he falls down the pecking order and fights a daunting battle to revive his career.
That said, things have gone well for him at the international stage under England manager Gareth Southgate. He has successfully made his cut into the Three Lions’ outfit and a good season with Chelsea may just help England witness the rise of a potential superstar.