Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is back after his excursions with the England national team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and is looking to get himself in the first-team ahead of the new campaign. The 22-year-old impressed during his loan spell with Crystal Palace last season and carried on his form on the international stage.
Loftus-Cheek could be a key player under new manager Maurizio Sarri given the alignment of his playing style and the head coach’s philosophy, but he still has plenty of work to do. Fans are hoping the England international will be in and around the first-team this season as they believe he could become a mainstay if given the chance.
Playing style perfectly in line with Sarri’s philosophy
Sarri wants Chelsea being snappier in transition, getting the ball from back to front in under 10 seconds. Loftus-Cheek has the ability to carry the ball long distances without relinquishing possession. At Palace last season, he made 73 successful dribbles in 24 league games. He also created 26 chances, showcasing that he has an end product which could benefit Chelsea greatly in the final third.
Another staple of a Sarri side is them keeping high levels of possession. On the ball, Loftus-Cheek is comfortable. He completes more than 80% of his passes and will only improve the more he trains in the manager’s system. One-touch football will soon be a familiar sight at Stamford Bridge in addition to playing out of the back. Loftus-Cheek is certainly a talented player who has a lot of qualities that Sarri will like, but there is a lot of competition for a starting place.
Chelsea overstocked in midfield
Chelsea’s acquisition of former Napoli playmaker Jorginho could hamper Loftus-Cheek’s chances of first-team football. In addition to the Italian international, the Blues also have N’Golo Kante, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater vying for a spot in the engine room.
Having risen through the youth ranks to the fringes of the senior squad, Loftus-Cheek has still only made 13 starts for Chelsea. This season could be the making of him, but he has a lot of obstacles to overcome to get in Sarri’s starting eleven.
His England performances should hold him in good stead, as he proved he can go toe to toe with the best players. Last season’s loan move to Palace has helped to develop his abilities too and now he’s eyeing a lengthy career at Chelsea.