Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has promised his club will be at the “front of the queue” to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea in the summer.
Loftus-Cheek, 22, impressed at Selhurst Park during his season-long loan from Chelsea so much that he earned a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup. While the midfielder has hinted he wants to play regularly at Chelsea next season, he is currently focused on the World Cup and is yet to make a decision over his future.
Having taken charge of an Eagles side, who failed to win a game or score a goal in their first seven Premier League matches last season, Hodgson guided the club to an 11th-place finish And Loftus-Cheek played a prominent role in retaining Palace’s top-flight status, despite missing three months of action with an ankle injury.
Under Hodgson, Loftus-Cheek became an important player which saw him earn his first international senior call-up for two friendlies against Germany and Brazil last November. He was awarded the Man of the Match on his debut against Germany but a serious ankle injury picked up shortly after saw him sidelined for three months.
However, the 22-year-old returned from injury in April and seamlessly slotted back into Hodgson’s starting XI. In all, Loftus-Cheek made 21 league starts for Palace, thereby playing more games this past season than during four years at Stamford Bridge. He has thus far made just six Premier League starts for Chelsea since making his first-team debut for the club in December 2014.
That’s enough to suggest how Loftus-Cheek has developed leaps and bounds at Palace under Hodgson.
His most noteworthy performance in a Palace shirt came during the 5-0 drubbing of Leicester City where the 22-year-old midfielder ran the show from midfield. Loftus-Cheek produced a stunning overall performance against the Foxes to guide the Eagles to their biggest ever Premier League victory.
A creative, ball carrying box-to-box midfielder, Loftus-Cheek became a massive hit at Selhurst Park. The energy and dynamism he brought to Palace remain unmatched, and the youngster also popped up with important goals. Calm and composed on the ball, Loftus-Cheek is capable of producing some magic moments when he gets into the final third.
A return to Chelsea would certainly mean prolonged periods sitting on the bench and the lack of playing time will only dent his progress.
That being said; it would be best for Palace to sign Loftus-Cheek on a permanent basis after seeing him thrive in south London last season. Regular game time at Palace will help the Englishman to develop further, while he will also make Hodgson’s midfield more dynamic next season.