Before the summer, everyone recognised Ruben Loftus-Cheek as that talented Chelsea midfielder who’ll never get an opportunity; like many before him. However, after a excellent cameo at the World Cup with England, supporters (outside of Crystal Palace fans) are finally beginning to take notice.
The 22-year-old midfielder gave us all an intriguing insight as to what the future holds for the immensely talented young man. His time at Russia 2018 could have sped up the process somewhat. Now, though, Loftus-Cheek has a big decision to make. Does he stick or twist?
Loyalty and respect
It’s crazy to think that the man from Lewisham, London, has spent two-thirds of his life at Stamford Bridge; he’s been on Chelsea books since 2004. The London club have developed, nurtured and harnessed his brilliance and helped turn Loftus-Cheek into the player that he is today. Without the Blues, who knows where the midfielder would be.
His case for sticking around is more out of loyalty and respect than anything else. Loftus-Cheek has played 22 competitive appearances for Chelsea since breaking into the squad four seasons ago. To give that some context, Manchester United’s Scott McTominay has already featured 23 times under Jose Mourinho…
The Englishman is far superior talent-wise than his Scottish counterpart, but having all the ability becomes rather meaningless if the first-team opportunities don’t come your way. That’s where Crystal Palace comes in. If The Eagles didn’t take a punt on Loftus-Cheek last season, then I think it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t have donned Three Lions colours during the World Cup.
With Maurizio Sarri taking the reigns at Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek can potentially see an opening; albeit a mightily small one. N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and now Jorginho are all comfortably ahead in the pecking order. Then, there is also his countryman Ross Barkley. Who knows what to expect from the former Everton man?
While we’re on the subject of The Toffees, it has been reported that Everton themselves would like to take Loftus-Cheek on loan. This would be a marked step up in quality from Palace, as the Englishman looks to climb further up the rungs on the footballing ladder. The decision is solely his, but the options are plentiful.
I think that at least two other Premier League teams having faith and confidence in Loftus-Cheek says a lot about his abilities. Sure, the step up to making the grade at Chelsea is a huge one. Call me old-fashioned, I’d love to see Sarri stick with the homegrown player and give him his chance.
It’s the dawning of a new era at Stamford Bridge. Their fans would love to see a youth academy product wearing their shirt with pride and giving his all for the cause. With Chelsea’s brilliant setup perfectly for youngsters to succeed, blues supporters have every right to demand that at the very least. Let’s be honest, they haven’t utilised their facilities anywhere near as much as they could have.
Another season-long loan move
My heart is telling me Loftus-Cheek should stick around and fight for his place. The head, in stark contrast, is suggesting that the 22-year-old should leave Stamford Bridge permanently for pastures new. In reality, what’ll likely happen is something in the middle; yet another season-long loan move. Although in the short-term that’s probably the best option, the chances are that the marauding midfielder will be in transfer-limbo once again in twelve months time. Decisions, decisions, eh?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d like to see young, English talents given their opportunities more often. Gareth Southgate has proven what benefits the whole country can reap with a little bit of trust. Those Three Lions did us proud over the summer, Loftus-Cheek included. I just don’t want to see his natural skill go to waste as it’d be a massive shame. The harsh reality is, he’s not alone. Situations like these happen almost every summer at practically every ‘top’ Premier League club. I think we’re heading in the right direction, but there is still an awfully long way to go.
This time around it’s Loftus-Cheek who’s in the limelight, hopefully, he has the right people around him to help make a career-defining transfer choice.