As the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present.
For Ruben Loftus-Cheek, this may never be more true. The 19-year-old found himself on the fringe of the first team by the end of the 2014/15 season, and Jose Mourinho found himself promising to give him a more prominent role for the 2015/16 campaign. Loftus-Cheek had a bit of a setback in the season’s final few weeks, however, lacking the sort of energy and determination that Mourinho was expecting (albeit during the wholly unnecessary friendly tour of Thailand and Australia), and drawing public criticism from his manager.
For many, this setback was a cause for concern, as Chelsea looked set to be a major player in the Paul Pogba sweepstakes during the summer transfer window. Juventus, however, now seems as though they’re going to hold onto their best player, and Mourinho hasn’t decided to reinforce the midfield with anyone else. In Loftus-Cheek, a lanky, physical presence in the centre of the park, he apparently trusts.
For Loftus-Cheek, this means a golden opportunity. Few players of his age have the chance to force their way into Mourinho’s short term plans, but Loftus-Cheek has a package of skills nobody else on the team can match. He’ll still have all of Nemanja Matic, John Obi Mikel, Cesc Fabregas, and Ramires ahead of him on the midfield depth chart, however, but with the exception of Matic, however, all of those players have glaring weaknesses in their games. If the 19-year-old can get back to showing the sort of energy he did during his debut, he could quickly find himself as a regular late-game option for a Blues squad in need of depth. And if he excels in that role, it’s not impossible to squint and see him in the starting lineup when Chelsea need to win a physical battle in midfield.
Since this is Chelsea, these opportunities don’t present themselves very often, and it would behoove Loftus-Cheek to do everything in his power to impress Chelsea’s coaching staff. If he does, we could finally see an academy product make the sort of breakthrough the fans have been hoping for ages, while if he doesn’t, he’s likely to join the loan army (possibly as soon as January), while someone such as Mario Pasalic takes his chance to train with Mourinho every day.
Carpe diem, Ruben.
We Ain't Got No History's 2015/16 season preview was edited by Joe Tweeds and designed by Graham MacAree. If you've enjoyed the work of the authors who generously donated their time to this project, please share with your friends and consider supporting The Chelsea Foundation as a way of saying thank you.Credits