Apart from the Eden-Hazard-to-Real-Madrid-saga, no issue has swirled at Chelsea more vigorously than the one surrounding Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Should the 22-year-old midfielder stay at Chelsea or leave?
Having decided to stay at west London after the World Cup, Loftus-Cheek has seen first-team opportunities hard to come by. So far, Sarri has opted to give him just a single start in the league. To be fair, however, he has spent the bulk of his playing time in European competition.
Despite having impressed in his limited outings, with three goals in the league as well as a superb hat-trick in a man-of-the-match performance against BATE Borisov in the Europa League, the England midfielder’s decision to stay at Chelsea seemed rather poor. The last time he went out on loan at Crystal Palace, he enjoyed his best season in a top league. And not just any league, but the Premier League.
Yet while Loftus-Cheek has demonstrated his ability to withstand the pace and physicality of the English top flight for a full season, the Chelsae head coach still does not see the 24-year-old as a main option for the west Londoners. Sarri recently left the midfielder out of the squad who travelled to Watford on Boxing Day, prompting the age-old question once again.
And the latest to weigh in on the Loftus-Cheek conundrum is television pundit Charlie Nicholas. A former Premier League star, Nicholas believes that it is time for the highly-rated midfielder to leave west London in order to find regular playing time.
“He has to go, he has to move on,” said the former Arsenal forward. “We speak about players in the past, he must look at people like Jack Wilshere and these people. I know Jack had a lot of bad injuries.
“This lad is talented, two-footed, big, agile athlete. What does he think about it? ‘I come in and actually do quite well, do I actually fit into the pattern of how he sees football? Am I maybe too slow on the ball for him? Is that why I’m not in?’.”
“It doesn’t seem he’s a holding midfield player, he doesn’t seem an attacking midfield player. I think it’s there, I think you can look at your CV and say ‘It’s time for me to move, I want to move’.”