An academy graduate, Ruben joined Chelsea at eight years old. He continued to perform and picked up a few injuries here and there. HIs impressive form and success (FA Youth Cup: 2011–12, 2013–14 and UEFA Youth League: 2014–15) earned him a senior debut in the Champions League, aged 18 and his premier league debut a couple weeks later. It was clear from early on that he was a phenomenal talent. Weeks later, he earned full promotion to the first team by Mourinho.
After featuring two seasons under Mourinho and one under Conte, Ruben was sent on loan to Crystal Palace. His loan at Crystal Palace saw him getting 24 League appearances and 21 starts, missing 14 due to injury, but he managed to score 2 goals and 4 assists. He managed to impress despite having to play out wide during his time at the club. His performances weren’t overlooked as he got his first England cap starting against Germany and won Man of the Match, for that game. He was later called up to be a part of England’s World Cup squad.
Ruben returned to Chelsea the following season, this time under Chelsea’s previous manager Maurizio Sarri. He absolutely lit up the Premier League, he was on fire. During this campaign (all comps.), he played a total of 40 matches (1955 minutes), scored 10 goals and provided 5 assists. He was finally showing what had been predicted of him and anxiously anticipated from the Chelsea fans. His explosive driving, direct attacking playing style was greatly admired and a site to behold. His link up play with Hazard and Emerson on the left side of the field was spectacular. His best performance of that season came in the Europa League where he bagged a hat-trick.
Unfortunately, he picked up an injury in a pre-season friendly to the devastation of fans worldwide. What made it worse was that it was an achilles injury, a potentially career ending injury, but if he was to return it would be in about 6 months. However, Ruben’s elite mentality and the excellent support given by Chelsea’s medical support, it was expected that he would be back stronger. It was unlikely that he would feature in this campaign under the recently appointed manager and Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard but to the pandemic, he made 7 appearances in the Premier League, mostly from the bench and featured twice in the Fa Cup.
Everyone is delighted that he made his return but has he really? The injury he picked up changes a player and their style of play and Chelsea fans can see the difference already. He looks timid on the ball, not willing to drive at players like before and his confidence seems slightly dampered. Ruben, himself has admitted that he is a player that needs game time to get back to his best, something Chelsea fans would love to see again. That sounds perfect, right? Wrong the problem he would now have is that the game time is no guarantee. Chelsea is a competitive club and with the new manager we’ve seen that he plays those on form, no matter who it is.
Chelsea is packed with potential and talent in midfield, with the recent addition of Hakim Ziyech (plays mostly wide but can play as a 10) and Kai Havertz, it becomes even more competitive. The game time he seeks to return to his best may just not be available. Towards the end of this season, he was playing out wide to pick up some minutes, but it isn’t expected to occur in the 2020/2021 season.
It’s indeed a worrying time for him and his fans, who are hoping that he can put his injury behind him and press forward, developing into the star and talent they know he is. If this doesn’t happen he could be seeing the door, as he’s no longer a young player anymore, being 24 now and the leniency and patience he experienced as a young, talented prospect may very well be up.
Can Ruben Loftus-Cheek salvage his career this season? Let us know in the comments below!