Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been at Chelsea since the age of eight and made his first team debut against Sporting Lisbon in December 2014, has reached the edge of the cliff separating Chelsea’s high regarded youth and their star-named line up.
Yet realistically does the 19-year-old English midfielder have a chance at making it at Chelsea now that he's scored his first goal for the club or will he be yet another name on the club’s ‘never made it’ youth star list?
One reason to suggest why Loftus-Cheek might stand a chance is the current dismal state of Chelsea's midfield which should provide the youngster with some more first team chances this season.
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This is due in part, to the drastic fall from grace of one-time powerhouse Nemanja Matic, whose abilities are sorely missed in protecting the current champions’ back four.
Caretaker boss, Guus Hiddink has favoured John Obi Mikel so far for the defensive midfielder role. However, the Nigerian international appears incapable of performing consistently week-in-week-out, as he struggled to cope with Everton at home, with the score ending 3-3.
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Yet it could be argued that if Chelsea’s senior players lack the necessary defensive know-how and raw strength to take control of possession in a game, then surely Loftus-Cheek, standing over six foot tall and with a strong physical presence must be the better option to bring balance back to the midfield.
Hiddink has recently suggested his desire to feature the youngsters in the first team on a more frequent basis with the hope they will become key players in the setup by May - an obvious boost to Loftus-Cheek's chances.
However, Loftus-Cheek wouldn't be the first young player with promise to drift away from Stamford Bridge. As many are aware of their large financial clout, they have the ability to challenge for the signature of any top midfielder in Europe, within reason.
This means the Blues could easily fill their defensive midfielder gap with someone like Porto’s Ruben Neves, who will no doubt come with a £30 million region price tag and severely impact Loftus-Cheek’s chances at the club.
The Blues are expected to conduct a relatively large squad overhaul in the summer, therefore, it is possible any progress made by Loftus-Cheek this season could be undermined by an expensive foreign signing joining in the summer.
So far Loftus-Cheek has started one game this season against Aston Villa in October, playing just 45 minutes before then-manager Jose Mourinho subbed him off - suggesting he had fallen out of favour with the Portuguese
A new manager is expected to join the club in the summer and there is a chance Loftus-Cheek's career could further stagnate - depending who is brought in - signalling the end of the England under-21 international’s hopes of breaking into the Chelsea team.
Despite these reasons for why Ruben Loftus-Cheek won’t make it at Chelsea, the chances he may receive between now and the end of the season could determine the rest of his career.
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