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Sarri: Loftus-Cheek a rising star and important player, but the rest is ‘up to him’

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The boss is happy with RLC’s progress, versatility, promise for the future

Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth - Carabao Cup: Quarter Final
RLC dominating his match-up against former youth teammate Nathan Aké
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Perhaps the best indicator of Loftus-Cheek’s recent progress at Chelsea is that the rising tide of transfer, exit, and loan rumors has been stemmed. While such things never truly go away, the focus of the conversation surrounding the 22-year-old has shifted to his talent, his improvement this season and the promise of even more for the future, rather than the constant questions about just how big of a mistake Chelsea are making by losing him.

It’s the middle one of the aforementioned three, improvement, that is most pleasing to Maurizio Sarri, especially as that’s the one aspect he has repeatedly brought up whenever he was asked about RLC’s prospects for minutes this season.

“I am really very happy with him. Tactically he is improving a lot, and the last game he played as a winger. I think in the future he will play as a midfielder but sometimes we will need him as a winger, especially in the last part of a match. For example in Brighton in the last 20 minutes the match was different so we needed a more physical impact. So at the moment he is a very important player for us.”

Loftus-Cheek spoke after the Brighton match about preferring to play in midfield rather than forward (despite playing really well in the latter role), but that sort of versatility surely wouldn’t hurt as he tries to fulfill his outsized potential.

“Ruben is a very, very good player with potential to be a great player. He played seven matches out of seven in the last month, four in the starting 11 and three from the bench.

“I think his potential is to be a star player, now it is up to him.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC

Some stars are born, some are made. Ruben was made at Chelsea, and may yet become our very homegrown superstar. He certainly has the skills and the potential; now the rest of the puzzle pieces have to fit together.