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Chelsea ‘facing prospect’ of losing Loftus-Cheek on loan in January — report

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The Times remind us that Ruben Loftus-Cheek may look to leave Chelsea in January

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek may have hit an historic hat-trick against BATE Borisov in the Europa League a month ago, but his share of first-team minutes has not increased significantly. He started just two of the five games since (one each in the Europa League and the League Cup) and also had an extended hour-long substitute appearance in the Premier League in place of an injured Pedro.

Some might say that’s an improvement on what had come before at Chelsea for the 22-year-old, but in the grand scheme of things, it remains a low share of minutes for someone who’s proven himself a starter at Crystal Palace and is looking to cement his place in the England squad.

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that The Times helpfully remind us that RLC could ask to leave on loan this January, with Crystal Palace and Shalke 04 (huh?) ready to welcome him with open arms.

Unfortunately for Loftus-Cheek, he remains firmly behind both Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley in the pecking order for the third spot in midfield, and Sarri’s experiment to use two of those three at the same time (eschewing the balance provided by Kante’s defensive awareness) was not met with good reviews. RLC has similarly fallen behind Barkley in the England depth chart as well, which could also serve as added motivation for a potential move.

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has already stated several times that he’d love to have Ruben back on loan, and perhaps the kid will feel that’s best for him once again as well. Then again, just as in the case of Andreas Christensen, is being a rotational option who’s playing pretty much once a week really that bad? Sure, the League Cup and the Europa League and, presumably, the FA Cup once it starts, aren’t the Premier League, but with the congested winter fixture list, there should be opportunities in all competitions for all players.

If RLC is looking for guaranteed minutes, he won’t find that at Chelsea. He’s unlikely to find that at any top level club. But if he doesn’t want the easy option, if he wants to fight and learn and improve and rise to the challenge, then staying could yet be the best choice.