Chelsea are often lauded for their talent pool but have also been criticised for not trusting their prodigies in senior ranks. They have preferred to offload their youngsters on loan and permanently off late. There are plenty of such instances who have flourished elsewhere, and the story of Ruben Loftus-Cheek might turn out to be the same unless the Blues hand him enough minutes in coming days.
The 22-year-old Three Lions midfielder made his mark in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad following an impressive loan stint with Crystal Palace. The player was supposed to take a central stage in Premier League this term amid an array of offers from English counterparts. But Chelsea had other ideas as they kept hold of him despite being unsure over his playing time.
Loftus Cheek joined Chelsea at the age of 8 and made significant strides through academy ranks before knocking the door for first-team football. He now needs to feature regularly but has to improve his game and stay patient for his chances as told by Maurizio Sarri, the new Blues boss who has scripted an incredible inception of their new campaign.
“I have seen he is a great player from the technical point of view, from the physical point of view. He has to improve from a tactical point of view. I think he has played a very good match, from the physical point of view and the technical point of view. “
The youngster had an injury-riddled summer and made his first start under their new Italian chief against MOL Vidi on Thursday night. Although the heavyweights clinched a narrow 1-0 victory in this Europa League encounter, Loftus Cheek was far from impressive and was taken off minutes after the hour mark.
The Chelsea starlet has been omitted from Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming international commitments as he has fallen behind N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. Things won’t get any better if he is not allowed regular minutes to work on his kinks.
Sarri has asked him to stay in Cobham for rigorous training, but the player must explore his options in January knowing there is very less possibility of him making it to the senior squad anytime soon. His experience with the Eagles justifies the demand for competitive football of the highest order and test his attributes against top-notch counterparts.
He has a good physique, strong technical traits and a good attacking aspect to his game. But Loftus-Cheek must work on his defensive work rate and game reading, something that would improve with experience and involvement week in week out. It will be an emotional farewell after 14 precious years in West London, but the time has come for Loftus Cheek to embrace the next challenge.
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