Premier League

Crystal Palace Loan Will Be Making Of Loftus-Cheek

 • by Dan Ludlam
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When it had been announced that Crystal Palace had completed the signing of Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a season-long loan back in July, it was greeted with vastly different reactions from across London.

An already depleted squad Chelsea had once again parted with one of their star academy products, leaving fans scratching their heads and questioning the club’s policy of promoting youth.

On the other side of the coin, Palace were delighted with their business. They had recruited an England Under-21 international who had been tipped by many to break into the first-team at Stamford Bridge this season.

We are just ten games into the 2017/18 campaign and already pre-season optimism has dwindled around Selhurst Park and the realisation of another impending battle against relegation is beginning to dawn.

Frank de Boer has already left, with Roy Hodgson taking his place in the Crystal Palace dugout after a series of poor results. Form has only improved slightly since, but there is one major cause for optimism that should keep fans moderately excited.

Rather fittingly, following defeat to Swansea, it was former Chelsea academy coach Paul Clement who labelled the loss of Loftus-Cheek to injury a “critical blow”.

Indeed it was. Palace lacked creativity, a driving force from midfield. Loftus-Cheek had provided a rare spark in the south Londoner’s first two games of the season, sending positive reverberations around the club.

There is certainly a role for the 21-year-old to fulfil in red and blue this season and Saturday’s eye-opening display against the Swans, suggests his role may yet prove vital to Palace’s ambitions.

One of the most meaningful questions to surface from Loftus-Cheek’s Chelsea departure, is just how can the club justify losing such a talent who is clearly bubbling under the surface and ready to burst onto the scene in the Premier League?

In a baffling state of affairs, Palace are increasingly grateful for Chelsea’s generosity and will provide the London-born youngster with the perfect platform to make his Premier League mark.

It may not be the glitz and glamour of Champions League football and competing at the top end of the table, but this can so often galvanise and shape a young player’s career.

Thrust into such circumstances will only enhance Loftus-Cheek’s fledging footballing journey and what better way to adhere himself to the Palace faithful than turning round their early season misfortunes.

He has so far made six Premier League appearances for the club. In those games, he has averaged 1.7 key passes and 3.5 completed dribbles. In both categories, he is among the team’s top two contributors.

Under the guidance of one José Mourinho, the England youth product made his professional bow aged just 18 in a Champions League group stage clash with Sporting Lisbon.

Loftus-Cheek would go on to make a further three first-team appearances that season impressing Mourinho, who would eventually instil him as a regular part of the squad.

Three years on and the 21-year-old has been granted the perfect opportunity to build upon his reputation of being one of the most promising young midfielders in the country. He may even look to make a late run at Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2018 World Cup on current form.

Hodgson will need to count upon his star players to help Palace rectify their dire league position and Loftus-Cheek’s eye-catching displays in his first six appearances for the Eagles will certainly provide his new boss with confidence.

 

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