On his international debut on Saturday, Ruben Loftus-Cheek showed the nation why he’s so highly rated by those at Crystal Palace and Chelsea alike. The youngster dominated a makeshift German midfield (with Mesut Özil), overpowering and breezing past them at will. For a 21-year-old, he showed great maturity and tactical nous to control the game for Gareth Southgate.
His performance left fans wondering why he was even sent out on loan in the first place, especially when you consider Antonio Conte is struggling for midfield options at the moment. Regardless, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be heading back to the Bridge, let’s hope the Blues use him correctly.
Here’s why Antonio Conte should include Ruben Loftus-Cheek in his plans.
Chelsea may have one of the best academies in world football, but they don’t have such a good reputation for breeding those youngsters into the first team. Names like; Tomas Kalas, Lucas Piazon, & Marco Vani Ginkel all spring to mind as talented players who are out on loan instead of playing at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues often send out their players on loan whilst charging fees for them whilst getting their host clubs to pay their wages. It’s smart business, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek shouldn’t be a part of that cynical business cycle, he needs to be a first team starter. The 6-footer is powerful, technically sound, intelligent and skilful, he has all the qualities to play as a box-to-box midfielder or a controlling central midfielder.
Chelsea’s current 3-4-3 only has space for one box-to-box CM and a holding midfielder, those two roles are currently held by Timeoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante. Sometimes the Blues boss opts for a more defensively solid 3-5-2, that allows Cesc Fabregas to form a midfield three with Bakayoko & Kante.
This is where Ruben Loftus-Cheek would easily fit in as the most advanced B2B in the midfield three. Ruben Loftus-Cheek would give Antonio Conte the perfect, hard-working, industrious system that he’s been trying to implement all season. If we’re being honest, Loftus-Cheek could best Bakayoko in the B2B role, as he’s more technically acute than his French counterpart.
At Crystal Palace this season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been head & shoulders the Eagles’ most influential player. In just 7 Premier League appearances, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has created 9 chances, won 67% of his duels, maintained 84% passing accuracy and provided 1 assist. In a team that’s only scored 4 goals this season and won 1 game, funnily enough against Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek has been the shining light in midfield. In a 4-3-3, he’s played as an attacking CM, but, in defence he’s also tracked back, slotting into a 5-man midfield. Roy Hodgson has highlighted him as the only saving grace of a relegation-riddled season thus far.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of the brightest talents England has ever produced and at the Bridge, he could have an extremely long career. We often overhype players in this country but with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he could be the first youngster to live up to expectations since Frank Lampard. Let’s cherish him, not overexpose him.