Chelsea may not be making any new signings on the transfer market this summer thanks to the transfer ban — Mateo Kovačić loan buyout aside — but we’re making excellent moves at the contract negotiating table instead. A new five-year deal for Ruben Loftus-Cheek got done last week, and will hopefully be followed by similar extensions for Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, and Mason Mount as well.
Looking at all age levels, Loftus-Cheek is perhaps the player who’s been at Chelsea the longest at this point, joining as an 8-year-old in 2004 and working his way up the age groups in the 15 years since. He spent one season away on loan, at Crystal Palace in 2017-18, but managed to establish himself as a first-team player last season despite a few recurring injuries.
He is now looking to build on that long-awaited breakthrough season at Stamford Bridge.
“I’m really happy that I get to stay here for another five years. It’s the place where I’ve grown up playing and hopefully I’ll be playing here for a lot longer. At eight or nine years old, of course you never think you’ll be here for so long because you just want to enjoy yourself and play with your friends.
“When I look back and see how the hard work has paid off, it’s a good feeling. That only makes me want to work harder to achieve more in the future. I hope to win a lot more trophies with the team and personally it’s just about trying to do as well as I can and work hard to be a key player for Chelsea.”
Loftus-Cheek unfortunately missed the Europa League final through injury, but before that unfortunate Achilles rupture, he had emerged as a real goalscoring threat from midfield. In fact, despite playing far less than any of the other midfield regulars, he reached double-digits in goals and was the only midfielder to do so. He was the first Chelsea midfielder to do that since Frank Lampard, who, incidentally, is now the new manager! How wonderful indeed!
“I’m really looking forward to the new season with Frank as manager. I watched him a lot in my youth team days and now it’s a great opportunity for me to learn and grow under him. He obviously played in midfield like me and scored a lot of goals from that position, which is something I want to do as well.”
This excitement over the new coaching staff does not stop at Lampard. Former Academy coaches Jody Morris and Joe Edwards are now part of the first-team staff as well, and that should prove beneficial to all the talented youth coming through the system.
“It’s exciting times for the club. I played with Jody a bit with the Under-21s [when Morris first returned to Chelsea at the end of his playing career] and they did so well last year at Derby. For them to combine their knowledge and experience with the youth coming through could be really interesting.
“I’ve been training with Joe since before I can remember really. He was my coach for a number of years in the Academy so it’s exciting that he’s moving up in the game and doing well. Everyone is progressing and if we keep that mentality to keep going forward then as a team we can achieve a lot.”
The only thing tempering this excitement when it comes to Ruben is his long-term injury, which is expected to rule him out for the first-half of the season — unlike Hudson-Odoi, whose Achilles injury was fairly minor and thus should see him return in September, Loftus-Cheek had a full rupture and probably will be out until the winter months.
First day walking... never thought I’d struggle pushing 5kg ✨ pic.twitter.com/pNbEQJV5e6— Ruben Loftus-Cheek (@rubey_lcheek) July 4, 2019
Thankfully he is showing signs of progress, though he is trying to stay patient.
“[Recovery] is going really well. I’ve started walking now and a lot of the rehab is just about trying to strengthen up my muscles again, get strong enough to run and progress that way. It’s feeling really good but I’ll take my time and make sure it’s right for when I come back.”
In the meantime, as one of the older players of the impending youth revolution, Loftus-Cheek can already start taking a leadership and mentorship role with the next generation. He may be young, but he’s always shown maturity and mentality beyond his age, and now has the experience to boot as well.
“I know how it feels to come over and train with the first team for the first time. Hopefully I can help the younger boys in the sense that I’ve been through that process myself and any situations that are familiar to me, I can be the one to talk to them and give them advice. I want to inspire them to believe in themselves and hopefully one day get to the first team as well.”
-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; source: Chelsea FC
Captain, leader, legend in the making!