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Ruben Loftus-Cheek must move on from Chelsea this summer

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Stop-start career

Coming back from the 2018 World Cup, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was one of the hottest properties in English football, having played a significant part in his country’s run to the semi-finals in Russia.

Having had a season playing regular first-team football at Crystal Palace, it seemed as if Loftus-Cheek was ready to return to Stamford Bridge and make an impact at Chelsea. Managing just 32 first team appearances in three seasons before then, the midfielder had to get first team football this year.Yet it hasn’t happened for him.

Maurizio Sarri has often been criticised for his team selections this season, having often used Eden Hazard as a false nine, while N’Golo Kante has been used as a box-to-box midfielder, leaving Jorginho in his preferred defensive midfield position.

Alongside those two has often been one of Mateo Kovacic or Ross Barkley, with the pair often being rotated as the third midfielder and generally replace the other as Sarri’s first substitution in Premier League games.

Loftus-Cheek meanwhile is their fifth choice midfielder it seems at this point, starting just once in the Premier League so far this season, appearing as a substitute on no less than 11 occasions. When he does get action, he often comes on as a winger instead of playing in his preferred central role.

That lack of football is alarming, particularly for a player that has so much to offer a top team in the Premier League if given a run of games. The 23-year-old has scored three Premier League goals in just 374 minutes of action in the campaign so far, also netting a hat-trick in the Europa League earlier this season.

Ruben Loftus Cheek England

The forgotten man

For some time he has been touted as one of England’s brightest prospects, becoming a favourite under Gareth Southgate during his reign as under-21 manager and has since brought him through to the senior squad.

He has 10 England caps to his name and was man of the match on his debut against Germany at Wembley, but is now in jeopardy of losing his place in the squad if he continues to miss out on regular action. Southgate has stressed the importance of playing regularly to earn a place in his squad, something which has gone against players in the past, including Jack Wilshere.

The future of English football is bright and if Loftus-Cheek continues to miss out on playing regular football he could well be left behind some of the rapidly emerging talents coming through the system.

Declan Rice recently committed his future to England after earning three caps for Ireland, while the likes of Phil Foden, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jadon Sancho are all developing quickly into future internationals.

Loftus-Cheek certainly has the potential within him to be a regular starter for England now and in the future, but can only do so if he continues to play at a high level for his club side.

The Chelsea academy product has played just 78 senior games in his career so far. In comparison, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, 18, has played 105 times for Fulham - albeit most of which have been in the Championship - already beating Loftus-Cheek’s return of appearances. 18-year-old Sancho - five years his senior - has already turned out 43 times for Borussia Dortmund, scoring just one less career goal.

Jadon Sancho

Potential destinations

In truth, he should have left Chelsea during the January transfer window, although the club were always unlikely to sell both him and Cesc Fabregas in the same month, especially without bringing in a replacement.

Loftus-Cheek needs to move on this summer to ultimately progress his career and establish himself as one of the top players in his position in the Premier League, something which clearly isn’t immediately available at Chelsea.

He should wait no longer in trying to establish himself at Stamford Bridge, with it ultimately being Chelsea’s loss if he departs. What should happen next is a move that will further his career.

If he does tell the club of his intention to leave, there would certainly be no shortage of suitors after him and there are plenty of clubs in the Premier League where he could be a solid fit.

With Aaron Ramsey departing Arsenal in the summer for Juventus on a free transfer and Mesut Ozil’s future still in doubt, the Gunners will likely be on the lookout for another attacking midfielder. A powerful player with the ability to score from midfield, Loftus-Cheek would appear to be a solid fit for Arsenal in the middle of the park.

However, with an added English premium on his head, as well as Chelsea likely to demand a further excessive fee from one of their London and Premier League rivals, Stan Kroenke may not be willing to put his hands in his pocket for the midfielder.

Manchester United could also be a possible destination for him, with Marouane Fellaini departing Old Trafford in January, while summer signing Fred has failed to impress. Loftus-Cheek would be a quality midfield addition, though he would be competing with the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera.

A move abroad could also be on the cards if he wants to follow in the footsteps of some of his fellow young English talents, with it working wonders for Sancho. Arsenal’s Ramsey is also moving onto the continent this summer, with it becoming more and more common for British players to try their hand abroad.

Whatever happens, it’s clear that Loftus-Cheek needs to move on this summer to prevent a promising career from further stagnating on the substitute bench at Chelsea.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek