Ruben Loftus-Cheek set for ideal loan to Frank de Boer’s Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea interacts with supporters during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Brentford at Stamford Bridge on January 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea interacts with supporters during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Brentford at Stamford Bridge on January 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is set to be Crystal Palace’s first signing under manager Frank de Boer. Crystal Palace were able to convince Chelsea that they were the best loan destination for the highly rated England U-21 international.

Palace jumped ahead of fellow Premier League clubs Newcastle, Brighton and Southampton. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been courting interest from clubs since last January, is set to complete the move within the next few days.

This move not only serves to demonstrate the high level of interest Chelsea academy graduates are receiving, but also the thorough screening process Chelsea employ to decide destinations. If a club wants to take a Chelsea player on loan, they have to first convince the Chelsea board that they can provide not just playing time but also help improve the player.

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Chelsea have had their hand burned on a few too many occasions in the past by English clubs. They have therefore employed a stricter screening process and it has paid off. The more recent successes of Tammy Abraham, Kasey Palmer, Izzy Brown and others lower down in the leagues has been due to Chelsea cherry-picking the best option out of a lot of suitors.

Loftus-Cheek has been the golden boy of the Chelsea academy for the past three years. However, this has not turned into sufficient playing time. Compared to other 21-year olds plying their trade in his position, he is woefully inexperienced.

Chelsea believe that players going on loan need to play at least a 100 professional games before they can return. Yet, in the case of Loftus-Cheek, they have failed to take their own advice. However, this loan could be the making of him.

Loftus-Cheek’s talent has never really been in question. It has been the application and the stamina that have needed examination. Without regular playing time, he could neither show nor develop these qualities. But now, under De Boer, Loftus-Cheek would have the opportunity to showcase his talents and his durability.

Hopefully, he can devote himself fully to these goals and earn himself a spot in the Chelsea starting XI. There is always a chance that Gareth Southgate will take him along to the World Cup in Russia if he performs well.

Frank de Boer is from the Ajax school of thought. He is motivated by both Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal. Although he can be pragmatic when the situation demands it, he prefers to have possession. He wants his team to attack through positional interchanges and quick one-touch combinations. That means that he wants players who have very well rounded capabilities but are also capable of individual brilliance.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek fits the bill and he could fill the role of a more advanced player in the midfield trio of a 4-3-3 formation. Moreover, thanks to his education in the Chelsea academy, he can fill in anywhere in midfield if called upon. That is what makes him very attractive to someone like De Boer.

Conte himself preaches positional play and is a fan of Van Gaal’s tactical approach. Therefore working under De Boer should only further Loftus-Cheek’s tactical education. De Boer requires his team to be ready to both attack and defend, and asks his players to work very hard. This loan will demand a lot from Loftus-Cheek. Hopefully, three years training with the first team have prepared him for these tasks.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been at the club since the age of eight. He has been anointed, rightly or wrongly, as the champion of the academy cause. The fans and the board have pinned their hopes of having a first team player who has risen through the ranks on him.

Maybe Chelsea have waited too long to send him out on loan. Or maybe this is the perfect time for him to have a breakout season in professional football. Either way, he is a player in need of regular playing time and Palace offer him that opportunity and a good tactical education as well. Hopefully, he can take this opportunity with both hands like Nathan Ake did at Bournemouth.

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Chelsea’s record with Premier League loans has not been good but maybe we are seeing a turning point. At least three Premier League clubs will have a Chelsea loanee on their roster. That does not count the potential loan moves for Lewis Baker and Izzy Brown as well. Chelsea are taking great care in picking clubs who will take their best prospects on loan. Hopefully this will work out well for all the parties involved.