One of the questions immediately posed by the Ross Barkley signing this weekend was regarding the future of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who shares multiple similarities with Chelsea’s newest midfielder. Combined with Chelsea’s habit of not giving our own youth products too many chances, and as a result, the recent spate of highly promising young players opting to leave, the question was not unreasonable.
We weren’t the only ones thinking this in fact. Loftus-Cheek’s current manager at his loan club Crystal Palace, Roy Hodgson left no doubt as to where he stands on RLC’s prospects when asked about this issue this week.
“He’s a player we’d like to have at our club, there’s no doubt about that.
“Ruben’s a player we like very much. We’re very impressed with him, delighted with the way he’s developed as a player during the time he’s been here. I’m pretty sure that if he’s ever available for sale, we would certainly be in there with our hand up as one of the potential buyers.
“It could well be that Chelsea would like to have both Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in their team. I wouldn’t mind both in my team, anyway.”
-Roy Hodgson; source: London Evening Standard
Of course, Hodgson’s talking in hypotheticals, and thankfully, that’s likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Loftus-Cheek is two years into his 5.5-year contract signed in the middle of the season we don’t talk about, and, according to the Daily Mail, the Blues have assured the midfielder that he still has a future at the club despite the arrival of Barkley this month. While not the greatest source, the reassurances should be an obvious move. RLC was always going to have competition to beat out at Chelsea.
To immediately conclude that Barkley's arrival spells doom for RLC isn't right. RLC will always face challenges from quality players, and so he should, that's the idea at a big club. He needs to meet that challenge, but also needs the opportunity in the first place.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) January 5, 2018
After stuck in limbo on the fringes of the first-team for several years, Loftus-Cheek is having a good first season on loan at Crystal Palace, which has led to some speculation that he could be recalled to help Chelsea’s depth for the rest of the season. But like a similar move with Nathan Ake last season, that would not be a good plan, and fortunately Antonio Conte has already said so as well. While the final decision doesn’t rest with him, it seems likely that RLC will stay at Palace the rest of the season and then hopefully compete for a spot in the first-team next season.