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.