Garth Crooks has advised Ruben Loftus-Cheek to seriously think about his future at Chelsea.
The 23-year-old midfielder has played a bit-part role under Maurizio Sarri this season.
Loftus-Cheek at Chelsea: Five things to know…
- Loftus-Cheek came through Chelsea’s renowned academy before spending the 2017/18 season on loan at Crystal Palace.
- He made his senior debut on December 10, 2014 in a Champions League match against Sporting CP at Stamford Bridge.
- To date, he’s made 69 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, scoring 10 goals and creating a further 10.
- Loftus-Cheek’s form on loan at Palace earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad at the 2018 World Cup.
- So far this season, he’s played 37 times for the Blues, registering eight goals and five assists.
Heading into the final Premier League weekend of this season, Loftus-Cheek has played in 22 of their 37 matches, albeit only starting in five and completing the full 90 minutes just twice.
A versatile midfielder, Loftus-Cheek, whenever he’s featured, has predominantly been deployed in the centre of the park. From there, the England international has found the net six times and created a further two for his teammates.
A graduate of the club’s respected academy, Loftus-Cheek is aiming to break the mould, not since John Terry has a Chelsea youth product held down a regular starting berth.
However, with fierce competition and his present contract expiring in 2021, footballer-turned-pundit Crook believes he needs to look at the long-term picture.
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“This is a lad I thought was better off staying at Crystal Palace on loan, playing every week and continuing his international development as a consequence of playing regularly. However the player decided to return to Chelsea – or more to the point, the club insisted he returned,” he told BBC Sport.
“Immediately his game time dropped, he lost all the momentum he gained from his time at Palace and he struggled to be the star his performances suggest he might be.
“It’s time Ruben Loftus-Cheek made some serious decisions about his career at Chelsea. The lad can play, as was clearly evident against Watford.”
One objective achieved, another remains
It’s been a tumultuous first season in charge of Chelsea for Maurizio Sarri. A string of poor results saw sections of the club’s support turn on him, but he remained steadfast and could end the campaign with silverware.
The Blues are in a strong position to reach the 2019 Europa League final. Sarri’s side left Germany last Thursday with a 1-1 draw with tournament outsiders Eintracht Frankfurt, a game that saw Loftus-Cheek shine.
And they go into the second leg at Stamford Bridge in buoyant mood. Over the weekend, Chelsea secured Champions League football as they are guaranteed to finish inside the Premier League’s top four.