Report: 25-year-old delighted after Tuchel changes his position at Chelsea
Those stitched into the fabric at Chelsea have revealed that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is savouring his role as a deeper midfielder.
This is according to sources from The Athletic, who state Loftus-Cheek has taken on the new position with real vigour.
‘Relished the challenge,’ claimed those close to the player.
Challenges have certainly been thrown in the 25-year-old’s direction over the past few seasons.
Rupturing his Achilles was the main hurdle, which then started the marathon effort to reclaim his Chelsea medal.
Loftus-Cheek on shuffle
Now safely back within Stamford Bridge’s walls, Loftus-Cheek is facing another type of obstacle.
A highly positive and beneficial obstacle.
So often throughout his career, the former England international has been deployed in more progressive midfield areas.
Maurizio Sarri appeared to get the remedy just right, using him as the most advance in a midfield three.
Ten goals and five assists hinted the Italian had discovered the perfect formula.
Frank Lampard tried a similar approach, yet was always going to be on the back foot following Loftus-Cheek’s long injury absence.
The results, understandably, were much weaker.
Whilst on loan with Fulham, Scott Parker played the Cobham graduate in all manner of positions.
He tried him as a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a right-winger and even as a centre-forward.
All Loftus-Cheek had to show from this cycle of changes was one goal in 33 appearances for the Cottagers.
How would the next coach approach this conundrum?
Thomas Tuchel’s first decision revolved around keeping Loftus-Cheek in the squad.
Once he was re-embedded, the tinkering could begin.
Against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup, the Lewisham lad started as one of the two central midfielders, or ‘double pivots’ as described by Tuchel.
He was excellent that evening, showing discipline to not always venture forward as previous managers might have encouraged.
In the two subsequent fixtures – defeats to Manchester City and Juventus – Loftus-Cheek was again asked to play centrally, but as an impact substitute instead.
Despite the results, his displays earned strong reviews from across the board.
His efforts earned him a first Premier League start in a Chelsea shirt for well over a year versus Southampton.
Once again, he was one of the Blues’ best performers on the day, all achieved from that deeper midfield post.
But how does Loftus-Cheek compare to others fighting for the same spot?
Clearly, the sample of statistics is not going to be entirely representative, considering Loftus-Cheek’s minimal number of minutes.
Yet, there is one piece of data that certainly stands out.
Confidence on the ball in the middle of the park is absolutely crucial, something he has in abundance.
How about the other traits a midfielder needs?
Well, Loftus-Cheek is behind Mateo Kovacic (2.4) and Jorginho (2) for tackles per game but is level with the master destructor N’Golo Kante (1.5 each).
He is also yet to register an interception; Jorginho has made nine already.
Loftus-Cheek’s passing accuracy will also need fine-tuning.
Jorginho’s successful pass average stands at 89.8%, Kovacic’s 88.4%
Down below them is their English teammate on 84.6%
Definitely sections that can be improved, and improved they surely will be under Tuchel’s guidance.