Chelsea’s first season under Maurizio Sarri is about to come to an end and not everything has gone right. But one thing that Sarri has handled extremely well is Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s development.
The midfielder, who barely received any minutes under Jose Mourinho and then was shoehorned into a striker role by Antonio Conte, has finally found a Chelsea manager who not only gives him minutes but also whose system is a good fit for his style of play.
“The most I have played in my career, the most goals and that is down to playing more. I have had tough times with injuries. I have known how to deal with that. I have hit the ground running. I am 23 now, I don’t think I should be seen as a young player. I need to step up.
“It is a good feeling to feel like an important player for the team. Palace I felt that I could feel like really help the team more. I had a chat with Sarri when I came back from the World Cup as I wasn’t sure if I would go on loan again or not. It gave me confidence to go and play.”
RLC has scored 9 goals and grabbed 5 assists across all competitions. This is a massive increase from last season when he scored 2 goals and contributed 5 assists for Crystal Palace on loan — and already performed well enough to earn a spot on the World Cup squad.
A midfielder scoring double-digit goals has been a common sight over the years at Stamford Bridge. If Ruben can continue with this scoring rate, he won’t be far from filling the void that's existed since Frank Lampard’s retirement.
“He is obviously the best of that, scoring from midfield. I studied him a lot in the academy. It is something I aspire to be like. I want to be a player who scores a lot and it is something that I want to improve more.”
Getting goals and assists is all good and well, but individual statistics do not matter unless the team also does well. While Loftus-Cheek has certainly helped Chelsea qualify for next season’s Champions League, we are not Arsenal and we do not consider top four to be a trophy.
No one understands that better than a graduate of the Chelsea Academy, where a trophy-winning habit is part of the education. Ruben has won plenty with the youth, and played a key role in all. Now he wants the same in the seniors.
“It feels good. I have won things with Chelsea and never felt like I have been a main player, I played a lot of game time in the Europa League this season. It would definitely feel different. I feel like I have helped the team a lot.
“I will try to help the team to win. We won’t be relaxed tomorrow, we have the Champions League qualification but we have the chance to win a trophy and that will be stupid to go into the match in a relaxed manner. We want to win.”
Considering the impact Loftus-Cheek has made and the progress he has shown, it’s a no brainer that he deserves a newer, better contract. Not to mention, Loftus-Cheek’s contract expires in 2021 and if we don’t want a repeat of what has happened with Hazard, Hudson-Odoi et al. We need to get him to sign a contract and sign it now.
When asked about it, Ruben didn’t really say anything much, just stated that he is happy at Chelsea and has no reason to leave but a pay rise wouldn’t be bad.
“I’m not sure. I let my agent deal with it. I am not thinking about that right now and I am just focused on playing. There is no reason why I should think about leaving Chelsea. If I get a pay rise that that would be great (he jokes).”
-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Source: Football.London
Loftus-Cheek career was in a bit of a limbo before this season and it’s certainly great to see him move in the right path towards realizing his fantastic potential. Here’s hoping that Loftus-Cheek can finally be the midfielder who fills the void left by Lampard’s departure and maybe even win a couple of trophies along the way. That’d be great.