Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has revealed that he is now a more mature player and ready to make his mark in the Chelsea first team.
The 25-year-old has been with the Blues since the age of eight. He spent several years in the youth setup before progressing to the senior ranks. The Londoner was handed a first-team debut in December 2014 and went on to enjoy four appearances that season.
However, the England international’s progress was perhaps slower than many expected. He enjoyed only four Premier League starts and 19 appearances over the next couple of seasons.
And that prompted a loan move to Crystal Palace for the 2017-18 campaign. The change of venue helped the youngster enjoy a breakthrough season.
He was handed 21 starts among 24 top-flight outings for the Eagles, scoring two goals. Stamford Bridge chiefs took note and back at Chelsea he thrived under then manager Maurizio Sarri.
Loftus-Cheek made 24 appearances in the league and found the net on six occasions. But, hampered by injury and having slipped down the pecking order his game time dried up.
West London rivals Fulham took note and snapped him up on loan for 2020-2021. The Cottagers’ campaign ended in relegation but Loftus-Cheeks gained vital experience with 30 league appearances.
And the talented schemer believes he has taken huge positives from his time in black and white.
“I feel really fit now and strong, and hopefully the injuries stay away,” he told Chelsea’s official website. “Last season was my first full injury-free season which is a massive positive for me, because I always used to get niggles.
“Even though I was fit I’d be out for a week or a couple of days, miss a couple of matches, but last season was good for my body to be fit every training session and available for every game.”
Loftus-Cheek out to impress Tuchel
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel appears to be a fan of the Lewisham-born ace. The German tactician arrived in January and so pre-season will be his first chance to see him up close and personal.
“I had last season as a season where I can find my feet and it definitely felt like that at the start,” he added. “I was struggling mentally and needed to focus on just taking risks in training and get that feel back.
“But it eventually came and I was doing really well in games, so I’ve had my injury and I’ve had a season now to get fit and feel confident in my body and this season is where I hit the ground running.”
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