Crystal Palace have managed to secure the signature of Englishman Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea. The South London club will look to bolster their midfield options which have been questionable since their promotion to the Premier League back in 2013.
Last season they celebrated the particularly successful campaigns of Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha, whilst squad members such as James McArthur, Jason Puncheon and Yohan Cabaye all contributed. Even though Palace showcased their attacking prowess against some of the big clubs, such as their 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield, their 3-0 romping of Arsenal and a shocking 2-1 victory at Chelsea, they only managed just 12 wins in 38 outings, and only found the net on 50 occasions.
New manager Frank de Boer is confident Loftus-Cheek can provide a “quality injection” going into his debut season managing in English football.
What do we know about Loftus-Cheek?
The 21-year-old will be a familiar name to many, but seemingly often the case – just a name. Throughout his time developing at Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek has been mentioned as a player with real promise and potential. However, limited game time has interrupted his progression in the public eye. He has featured predominantly for the Blues in early-rounds of the FA and EFL Cup competitions. This experience, particularly playing amongst some major stars at Chelsea, should help him hit the ground running in the league.
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His role in the Palace team
We are still yet to know if Loftus-Cheek will jump straight into De Boer’s starting XI. This being said, he will be expected to feature quite significantly for the Eagles. His vibrant runs and technical ability will look to thicken Palace’s depth in midfield, whilst adding support for lone striker Christian Benteke. Currently Zaha and Townsend run the flanks, but a number 8 who can provide a bit of extra creativity through the middle is something which the club have been searching for in recent seasons.
Will he be a success?
As often the case with young players on loan, a successful season is very much determined by game time. If De Boer decides to give the Englishman a key responsibility in the squad, alongside showing the confidence to give him most of the ninety minutes, then Loftus-Cheek has a potentially very influential campaign on the horizon.
My verdict: This will be a telling season for the attacking midfielder. He will be served enough game time to make a mark and this will be a year which Chelsea manager Antonio Conte watches over his loanee. Loftus-Cheek will provide an array of assists and should have a small share in goals also. Overall, this will be a promising 2017/18 spell at Selhurst Park.