Ruben Loftus-Cheek has vowed to fight for his place in an overloaded midfield for Chelsea as the new season gets underway.
Earlier in the pre-season game against Lyon, head coach Maurizio Sarri spoke highly of Loftus-Cheek and mentioned the highly-regarded Chelsea youth product can be a very useful player for his squad. True to his word, the Italian introduced the 22-year-old midfielder in for the unimpressive Ross Barkley in the last 20 minutes of the match against Huddersfield yet fared no better than his fellow England midfielder despite Chelsea cruising to a 3-0 victory.
In fact, Loftus-Cheek seemed to confirm what his coach had said about him earlier – that he needs to improve from a tactical point of view. With Jorginho and N’Golo Kante virtually assured to start on a regular basis, he will compete with the likes of Barkley, Cesc Fabregas and Mateo Kovacic for the lone midfield spot on the left side which still looks up for grabs.
His ineffectual cameo against the Tigers didn’t help his standing in the current scheme of things but at the very least, Loftus-Cheek is determined to force his way into Sarri’s plans as he has just recently turned down a loan move to Bundesliga club Schalke. Loftus-Cheek explained that decision by expressing his delight at playing under the new system of Sarri, claiming it suits his preferred style of play.
“I’ve played in a few positions, mostly on the left of midfield last season,’ Loftus-Cheek told the club’s official website. “Playing in a 4-3-3 in an attacking midfield position is kind of my position really, my suited position, so hopefully I can bring my best football to the team. The boys are working really hard trying to understand how the boss wants us to play, on and off the ball, and it will only get better.”
Loftus-Cheek added that not only is he prepared to give his all in training but also eager to digest the Italian’s methods in order to be in contention for a regular starting spot. “I have just got to work hard, try and play my best football, and try and get as much time on the pitch as possible,” he added. “You can only really set specific targets when you know you’re playing every week, so for me it’s just a case of getting my head down, working hard, trying to understand the manager’s tactics and going from there.”