Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been with Chelsea since the Under-8s age group and is a talented box-to-box midfielder capable of controlling games and playing in attack. He captained England schoolboys in the Under-16s’ Victory Shield and played three times for the Chelsea youth team while still an Under-15.
In 2011/12, while still a schoolboy, he was impressing again before picking up an injury to his hip and groin but recovered in time to make a substitute appearance in the FA Youth Cup final. His debut season as a full-time scholar saw him feature on 18 occasions for the Under-18s and net his first goal on the opening day of the campaign against Manchester City. He also made nine appearances for the Under-21s.
His influence in midfield was vital as the Under-18s reached the Youth Cup final once again and he started the final three games of the NextGen Series campaign as the Under-19s lost 2-0 to Aston Villa in the final. His strong form was rewarded as he was selected to travel with the first team squad on a post-season trip in May 2013 to the US for two matches against Manchester City.
The youngster started both games, impressing in the first before being replaced by Nathan Ake late on, and again starting the second game in promising fashion before being forced out of the action with an injury.
In 2013/14 he was part of the Under-21 squad which lifted the Premier League title, as well as captaining our Under-18s to FA Youth Cup glory.
Jose Mourinho handed him a first team debut in a Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon in December 2014, and he had his first taste of Premier League action when he came on as a late substitute in our 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the end of January.
In the February, Loftus-Cheek was elevated permanently into the first team squad although the midfielder was still part of the Under-19 side which won the UEFA Youth League courtesy of a 3-2 final victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in April 2015. The following month he made his maiden start for the first team, playing an hour against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
In the first part of the 2015/16 season, Loftus-Cheek started a Champions League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, a League Cup match at Walsall and a Premier League visit from Aston Villa but it was in the FA Cup in the January when he made big steps forwards, scoring his first senior goal at home to Scunthorpe and playing is first 90 minutes in the next round away at MK Dons. He was rewarded the next month with a new contract until 2021.In April 2016 Loftus-Cheek netted his first Premier League goal, the opener in an all-round strong contribution to a 4-0 win over Aston Villa away.
Life under Antonio Conte for the young player began with a new position in the team. The Italian identified Loftus-Cheek as having the characteristics needed to play as one of the strikers in a two-man central attack, and handed him two starts there in the League Cup at the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign.After the team successfully switched to a 3-4-3 shape, he was used as one of the supporting attackers to centre-forward Michy Batshuayi in the opening rounds of the FA Cup, and assisted in a goal for the Belgian against Peterborough.Loftus-Cheek made four Premier League appearances in March and April of 2017 as we retained our place at the top of the table before injury ruled him out. By the end of the title-winning season he had made 11 appearances in all competitions.
On 12 July 2017 he joined fellow top-flight side Crystal Palace on loan for the season and although the Eagles' early season form was not good, the youngster was one of their best players, often asked to play out wide.He was rewarded by being called into the senior England squad by his former boss at Under-21 international level, Gareth Southgate, and was handed his debut from the start against Germany at Wembley in November 2017. He was named man of the match.He continued to excel at Selhurst Park as Palace surged up the table away from relegation danger, and he only ended up on the losing side in his last 17 appearances for the club - those games narrow defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal. He scored twice, versus Stoke and Leicester City, and ended the season by being named in the England World Cup squad.
Loftus-Cheek made his first appearance of the current campaign as a substitute in our opening-day win at Huddersfield, and the midfielder then scored his maiden Chelsea hat-trick in a Europa League win against BATE Borisov, before adding a first Premier League goal of the season away at Burnley. Loftus-Cheek then scored in consecutive league games against Wolves and Fulham early in December.
Having been selected for England's 2018 World Cup squad, Loftus-Cheek was introduced off the bench in their opening game against Tunisia with the score level at 1-1, and it was an impressive cameo from the youngster, who caused the opposition problems immediately before forcing the corner which led to England's late winner.
He then started the next two games, against Panama and Belgium, performing well in both, before completing all but the last six minutes of the third place play-off against Belgium.