Crystal Palace’s Lionhearted Loanee

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Crystal Palace in action during the Premier League match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace at Amex Stadium on November 28, 2017 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

There’s been much controversy over recent years about Premier League clubs loaning players to other Premier League clubs. To some of the public’s disliking, there is no rule in place that would bar such a move. Crystal Palace is certainly one of the clubs delighted by the absence of such a rule. Thanks to Chelsea, one of Palace’s most promising, creative and deadly weapons so far this season is their loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Joining from the Blues in the summer, Loftus-Cheek remains one of the few bright spots for the Eagles.

Crystal Palace’s Lionhearted Loanee

The Opportunity

It is now or never for Loftus-Cheek to show that he has the quality and determination to be a Premier League player. The 21-year-old is using his time at Crystal Palace to prove to his parent club, Chelsea, that he should not have been loaned out in the first place. Notorious for not giving youth a chance, Chelsea will be thinking twice about their decision as Loftus-Cheek continues to impress in the midfield.

The young Englishman’s biggest weakness seems to be his inability to remain healthy. Consistent back problems and some muscle injuries have prevented Loftus-Cheek from featuring in all of Palace’s Premier League matches this season. When he has featured, he’s looked quite sublime. At the weekend, Loftus-Cheek sparked his side’s comeback victory over Stoke City when he levelled the game in the second half. In great part to the Chelsea loanee, Palace secured their second win of the season.

Loftus-Cheek is doing just what those who’ve known him since a young age expected him to be doing. He’s excelling as an attacking threat and a creative player. When he’s allowed space on the ball, Loftus-Cheek can punish any team. We’ve seen this for Palace this season. Before Palace recorded their first win of the season at home to Chelsea, it was Loftus-Cheek who constantly looked as if he’d be the one to directly have a hand in the club’s long-awaited first goal of the season. Thanks to the attacking midfielders consistency, that spark he provided in attack has not faded. With the Eagles now proving that they are capable of scoring goals, Loftus-Cheek finally has the help he so desperately needed in attack.

England National Team

Every international manager is faced with one of the toughest decisions in football every four years: who to include in their World Cup squad. With England being such a disappointment at the international level over the past few years, manager Gareth Southgate’s job of picking his side is a crucial one. Loftus-Cheek, who worked with Southgate at the Under-21 level, is one hoping to crack the side.

Thanks to his impressive start at Selhurst Park, Southgate called him up for the national team’s friendly matches against Germany and Brazil. If England fans were previously unaware of the young man, the name is likely ingrained in their brains now. He was one of the brightest players out on the pitch despite a 0-0 draw in both matches. Loftus-Cheek provided the same attacking threat that he does at the club level while keeping a calm demeanour in two of the biggest games he’s featured in (despite the matches only being friendlies).

With England struggling to find that balance in midfield, Loftus-Cheek’s name is surely going to be one of those being thrown about within the national team camp. He has the remainder of his time at Palace to show not only Chelsea, but Southgate and his team, just what he can give to a side.

Club Future

Loftus-Cheek’s current form for Palace, his England performances and Chelsea’s lack of squad depth in the midfield have left many scratching their heads as to why the London-born player was sent out on loan. Without getting into the controversy of the loan system, it’s safe to say that all Chelsea wanted was for the young man to get some Premier League experience before suiting up and becoming a regular for the blues. In due time, Loftus-Cheek could very much become part of the plan at Stamford Bridge.

Ahead of his leveler against Stoke, Palace manager Roy Hodgson revealed that Chelsea indeed do have the option to recall Loftus-Cheek from his loan at SE25. One player who might be keen to see the attacking midfielder back in a blue shirt is Chelsea winger Willian. After Brazil’s friendly with England, Willian told reporters that he believes Loftus-Cheek is a very talented player. He then questioned why Chelsea would send him out on loan and joked that he should come back.

Whether he will suit up for the Blues or not next season remains to be seen, but it is difficult to think Chelsea will let such a promising talent leave the club again especially after proving himself in the league. Loftus-Cheek will not be fixated on what next season will bring. At the moment he is fighting to get Palace out of the relegation zone, and he will be giving it his all in order to book his ticket to Russia under Southgate’s regime.

 

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