Here we go again. Of all the good things you can associate with Chelsea football club, their loan policy is certainly not one of them. If you’re a wonderkid or just another academy starlet trying to break into the first team, a spell away from the club is almost certain. Just ask Nathaniel Chalobah, who had loan spells at as many as six clubs before coming on in a game where the side were four goals to the good earlier this season. Others have not been so lucky.
One of the players who was the talk of the town was Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Part of the Chelsea youth team that won the FA Youth Cup, The u21 Premier League and the Uefa Youth League, Loftus-Cheek has been touted by many pundits and fans to be the heir to Michael Ballack. However, chances have come at a premium for the now 20-year old.
Jose Mourinho, who was sacked from the Chelsea job a year ago, had put his faith in the talented midfielder and vetoed a loan move for the player in the summer of 2015. He did get a few chances under the Portuguese but things have been different under Conte. However, the Italian has given chances to some of the lesser known players like Victor Moses, so there’s no reason to believe that Loftus-Cheek might have a future at Stamford-Bridge.
Conte has found his best XI at Stamford-Bridge and even players like Cesc Fabregas have struggled to get into the first team picture when the likes of Matic and Kanté are fully fit, so it’s natural the press are reporting a potential loan move for Loftus-Cheek.
One of the clubs said to be in the picture for acquiring his services are Newcastle United. The Magpies have made good strides this season as Rafa Benitez has already done a fantastic job after he stuck with the club despite their relegation.
Benitez has stamped his authority on the squad and the British core has done well at St. James Park. His judicious use of Jonjo Shelvey and summer signing Isaac Hayden has earned him a lot of plaudits and considering the former has been banned for five games, a move for Loftus-Cheek might not be the worst idea at all.
Benitez has some decent options up his sleeve but there are still a few areas of concern. In Shelvey’s absence, Jack Colback is the likely candidate for a first team berth but he doesn’t necessarily have the same skillset. Sure, he’s a tenacious player and can offer good protection to the back four, but Shelvey’s ball distribution, drive on the break and creativity will still be missing. He can, of course, play Mo Diame in the deeper role, but the African has done pretty well in the number 10 role behind the man in form Dwight Gayle and altering the setup might make Diame less effective.
Loftus-Cheek is known for his creativity from the deeper areas and he is strong enough for the rugged Championship style. There’s still quite a lot of games to go in the League, and regardless of the Shelvey situation, more creative players in the team will be a good option.
Where it gets complicated is Chelsea want assurances about the involvement of Loftus-Cheek. Well, the Ballack comparisons are obviously far-fetched considering he’s still so young. Benitez could do with some creative players like him as Shelvey’s absence leaves the team searching for creativity and that was seen in the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday last night. However, is Loftus-Cheek the best solution? Rafa will obviously get better players with more experience than the Englishman. For a player who has been playing with the lower age groups and the reserve league, it would take something to go over to Tyneside and set the Championship on fire.