Yesterday we heard from Ruben Loftus-Cheek on his experiences at this summer’s World Cup. Today his focus turns to domestic football, and what he can bring to the Chelsea team this season…
In the wake of our friendly against Lyon last week, Maurizio Sarri responded to a question about Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who he had just seen start his first game since the World Cup.
‘He is potentially a great player,’ Sarri said.
‘He has to improve from the tactical point of view but that’s not a problem. He’s very young and I think he can be a very useful player for us.’
Our new head coach demonstrated that viewpoint at Huddersfield on Saturday, bringing Loftus-Cheek off the bench for the final quarter of our Premier League opener.
Replacing Ross Barkley in the midfield trio, Loftus-Cheek immediately looked at home in our new system as we ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. The 22-year-old thinks the new set-up could work to his advantage.
‘I’ve played in a few positions, mostly on the left of midfield last season,’ he says.
‘Playing in a 4-3-3 in an attacking midfield position is kind of my position really, my suited position, so hopefully I can bring my best football to the team.
‘The boys are working really hard trying to understand how the boss wants us to play, on and off the ball, and it will only get better.’
Loftus-Cheek mentions last season and during it he took significant steps in his development during the first loan spell of his career. He played 24 Premier League games for Crystal Palace and that number would have been higher if an ankle injury hadn’t kept him out at the beginning of the year. His performances for the Eagles earned him plenty of plaudits, and it is apparent that what he learned will stand him in good stead at Chelsea in the years to come.
‘Playing regularly in the Premier League taught me how hard you have to work, and how focused you have to be every game to get three points.'
— Ruben Loftus-Cheek
‘We had a period at the start where we didn’t get a win for seven games. I’ve experienced that and it wasn’t nice. And I’ve experienced a good run at the end as well, and a decent run in the middle, so I feel like I experienced a lot in one season - different managers as well.
‘The loan did me really good,’ Loftus-Cheek continues. ‘I feel like I have got that experience of a Premier League season now, and international football as well. I feel more mature as a player to help battle for three points every game.’
Since making his Chelsea debut in December 2014, Loftus-Cheek has played over 50 times for the Blues. One of his goals this season is to markedly improve that tally, and as he seeks to force his way into the side he knows what is required of him to do so.
‘I have just got to work hard, try and play my best football, and try and get as much time on the pitch as possible.
‘You can only really set specific targets when you know you’re playing every week, so for me it’s just a case of getting my head down, working hard, trying to understand the manager’s tactics and going from there.’