Over the next few days we will examine 11 Chelsea prospects in every position on the pitch and analyze their potential for the first team in the future.
GK- Jamal Blackman
RB- Todd Kane
CB- Andreas Christensen
CB- Tomas Kalas
LB- Jay Dasilva
DM- Ruben Loftus-Cheek
CM- Lewis Baker
CAM- Izzy Brown
CAM- Lucas Piazon
ST- Dominic Solanke
ST- Patrick Bamford
Case For Ruben Loftus-Cheek
When Ruben Loftus-Cheek signed a £1.7m contract before his 18th birthday, there were a lot of eyebrows raised. The expensive contract was mostly a precaution to ward off interest from various poachers. Given Loftus-Cheek’s size and skill, it is not surprising that teams were lining up to poach him from Chelsea’s academy. There are not a lot of players like Nemanja Matic in the world and Loftus-Cheek is the closest thing you will find in England right now.
From a limited top level sample, it seems that Loftus-Cheek is not out of his depth. Preseason performances against Manchester City and his performance against Liverpool showed that he is a reliable player. His defensive skills are what most people see, but he also contains an underrated attacking component in his game (6 goals in 13 games for England’s U19s). Right now he has all the tools to be a regular first team player and would likely be a regular for most top flight teams.
Case Against Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Nathaniel Chalobah is a cautionary tale for Loftus-Cheek. Chalobah was well ahead of RCL in his development by almost 2 years and it has not worked out as expected for our other talented defensive midfielder. The issue with Chalobah has been with his ego and work ethic. At times Chalobah struggled to remain interested in games at the youth level. Loftus-Cheek seems to have a better handle on things but can go lose his composure at times. Jose Mourinho has said that he plans on making Loftus-Cheek a regular next season, but, should he fail to earn enough minutes, a loan spell could yield similar results.
Looking at the depth chart, it is easy to plug Loftus-Cheek in as Matic’s direct back-up at the moment. John Obi Mikel and Ramires both have questions about their future and there has been no indication that Mourinho has any plans for Chalobah. The problem is that Matic has played nearly every important minute this season while Kurt Zouma has been used as his direct replacement. While Mourinho has made a lot of promised about Loftus-Cheek, there still seems to be trust issues with making him a regular.
Loftus-Cheek has two more seasons on his contract. The best way for him to become a regular would be if he stayed at Chelsea and earned minutes alongside Matic rather than in place of him. A loan spell could be the ultimate disaster as it has derailed the opportunities for players on the verge of the first team like Chalobah. Mikel played 21 games this season so far, a similar output next season is the absolute best case scenario for RLC.