Ruben Loftus-Cheek on his new deal, Frank Lampard, more trophies and his injury recovery
Despite Chelsea may not be able to make any new signings (Mateo Kovačić aside), this summer has been a bright one for the Blues as many players have or are on the verge of signing new, long-term contracts, showing their commitment to the club for the foreseeable future.
And this shows most notably in Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who extended his stay at his boyhood club until 2024. To say the future is bright (& blue) for the 23-year-old is an absolute understatement.
The England international has been apart of Chelsea pretty much since he started playing football and with extending his stay for another five years at Stamford Bridge, it will take him into his 20th year as a Chelsea player.
Something that RLC is very proud of.
“I’m really happy that I get to stay here for another five years. It’s the place where I’ve grown up playing and hopefully I’ll be playing here for a lot longer. At eight or nine years old, of course you never think you’ll be here for so long because you just want to enjoy yourself and play with your friends.”
Ruben is currently the longest-serving player at the club, joining as an eight-year-old back in 2004. And in those last 15 years, he has worked his way towards fulfilling his dream of being an established, first-team player, playing in front of the Stamford Bridge faithful every other Saturday.
With a single season away on loan at Crystal Palace back in 2017-18, Loftus-Cheek finally started to make a name for himself last season, breaking his way into Maurizio Sarri’s starting line-up on a regular basis. And with ten goals and five assists in forty appearances, the potential that has been there for a while now is starting to get fulfilled.
Something that Ruben is very much keen to build on going forward.
“When I look back and see how the hard work has paid off, it’s a good feeling. That only makes me want to work harder to achieve more in the future. I hope to win a lot more trophies with the team and personally it’s just about trying to do as well as I can and work hard to be a key player for Chelsea.”
Ruben was urged during his stay in the academy system to analyse Frank Lampard’s game, with his coaches urging him to strive for the legendary midfielder’s stamina, technical consistency and goalscoring impact.
And since breaking into the first-team, RLC has become very much a goalscoring threat from midfield – being the only midfielder to contribute double digits in goals since… the very man he was encouraged to become.
His new manager.
“I’m really looking forward to the new season with Frank as manager. I watched him a lot in my youth team days and now it’s a great opportunity for me to learn and grow under him. He obviously played in midfield like me and scored a lot of goals from that position, which is something I want to do as well.”
Along with his new Head Coach, Ruben is also chomping at the bit to start working (again) with Lampard assistant’s in Jody Morris and Joe Edwards – both former academy coaches during his development – two people he knows very well from growing up at SW6.
“It’s exciting times for the club. I played with Jody a bit with the Under-21s [when Morris first returned to Chelsea at the end of his playing career] and they did so well last year at Derby. For them to combine their knowledge and experience with the youth coming through could be really interesting.
“I’ve been training with Joe since before I can remember really. He was my coach for a number of years in the Academy so it’s exciting that he’s moving up in the game and doing well. Everyone is progressing and if we keep that mentality to keep going forward then as a team we can achieve a lot.”
With all the excitement and enthusiasm on show from the ‘Lewisham Ballack’, he will unfortunately have to wait to truly show this due to his ongoing recovery from his ruptured achilles tendon injury he suffered in the ‘Final Whistle on Hate’ charity match against MLS side New England Revolution back in May.
Whilst he did suffer a similar injury to Callum Hudson-Odoi – who is expected to return around September following his recovery from his surgery – Loftus-Cheek had a full rupture and probably will be out until the winter months, with reports of him expected to return around November time.
Despite the injury putting a temporary stop on his progression into becoming a first-team regular, RLC’s spirits remain high and is positive that he’ll be back to the form he showed before getting injured.
“[Recovery] is going really well. I’ve started walking now and a lot of the rehab is just about trying to strengthen up my muscles again, get strong enough to run and progress that way. It’s feeling really good but I’ll take my time and make sure it’s right for when I come back.”
As he continues his recovery, Ruben plans to help towards building the relationship between the first-team and the younger players, something that Lampard himself has vowed to do during his managerial tenure.
And as the poster boy for that journey from academy teenager to first-team regular, RLC is in a unique position to offer guidance to those coming through the academy right now, on what is needed to breakthrough into the first-team and to ‘make it’ at Chelsea.
By acting as a mentor to the next generation, his experience, mental strength and leadership will become valuable to those in the inbound youth evolution, an evolution that is bursting at the seams to start at Stamford Bridge.
“I know how it feels to come over and train with the first team for the first time. Hopefully I can help the younger boys in the sense that I’ve been through that process myself and any situations that are familiar to me, I can be the one to talk to them and give them advice. I want to inspire them to believe in themselves and hopefully one day get to the first team as well.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Ethan Ampadu… the list of names that have what it takes to become the pillars of this club going forward is almost frightening. In a good way. Chelsea has a chance here to create a new era at the club. The ‘homegrown era’. An era built around kids, youngsters that have the potential and most certainly will fulfil it, becoming the spine of the team for the next few years. Next decade even.
And Ruben for me has to be the absolute nucleus of this. He is the foundation that Chelsea needs to build on. RLC has what it takes to be the face of this club.
More importantly, he is, in my opinion, the future captain of Chelsea Football Club. Not a matter of if, just a matter of when…