Maurizio Sarri told 22-year-old key to Chelsea FC’s future
Garth Crooks talks up Ruben Loftus-Cheek's importance to Chelsea FC this season
Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be a key player for Chelsea FC’s future under Maurizio Sarri, according to BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks.
The England international returned to Stamford Bridge in the summer following a successful season-long loan spell at Crystal Palace last term.
Loftus-Cheek scored three times in 25 games to help the Eagles remain in the Premier League under former England manager Roy Hodgson.
The 22-year-old was named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup in Russia, and the Chelsea FC starlet made four appearances.
His World Cup performances earned him plenty of praise but Loftus-Cheek opted to remain at Stamford Bridge despite interest from Palace.
Loftus-Cheek has found his first-team opportunities limited after the arrival of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in the summer transfer window.
The Chelsea FC youth product reminded Sarri of his quality with three goals in a 3-1 victory over BATE Borisov in the Europa League in their final European game in October.
However, the Chelsea FC star was given the chance to shine from the bench for the trip to Burnley last weekend, netting their final goal in a 4-0 win.
Former Spurs forward Crooks believes Loftus-Cheek does have a long-term future at the west London side.
“What a week this lad has had: A hat-trick on Thursday in the Europa League against BATE Borisov and another fabulous goal against Burnley as Chelsea brushed aside their opponents,” Crooks told BBC Sport before Chelsea FC’s clash with Palace on Sunday.
“Manager Maurizio Sarri was masterful in his response when asked about starting Loftus-Cheek at Turf Moor. ‘My problem is that I can only pick 11 players,’ he said with a smirk.
“Nevertheless, Sarri brought on the England international after 30 minutes in place of Pedro and didn’t regret it.
“I thought Loftus-Cheek should never have returned to Stamford Bridge after his loan spell at Crystal Palace last season but if he carries on like this he could be their future.”
Loftus-Cheek was first handed the chance to impress in the Chelsea FC team during Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge of the Stamford Bridge outfit.
The versatile midfielder made four appearances in the 2014-15 season as Chelsea FC won the Premier League title and the League Cup crown.
Loftus-Cheek scored two goals in 17 games in all competitions in the 2015-16 campaign, before he was sent out on loan in Antonio Conte’s second season in charge.
Chelsea FC opted to appoint Sarri as Conte’s replacement in the summer after the Blues could only muster a fifth-placed finish last term.