Premier League • England

Rio Ferdinand urges Tuchel to make ‘magnificent’ fringe Chelsea star pivotal in major change

Jonny Whitfield
BT Sports Pundits Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole

Rio Ferdinand has expressed his admiration for Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s impressive Chelsea displays this season, calling for a greater role for the midfielder.

The 25-year-old developed in the Blues’ academy and has subsequently been at Stamford Bridge for some time. What’s more, he made his first-team debut in December 2014.

Nevertheless, he has only managed 88 appearances in his seven seasons. Injuries have not helped and he spent last season on loan at relegated Fulham.

However, after failing to get a similar move away this summer, he has stayed in boss Thomas Tuchel’s ranks.

Tuchel has not left him entirely out in the cold, handing him three Premier League outings including Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brentford. Still, he failed to make the squad for three of the previous five, so handing him a regular role would be a big change.

Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand watched Saturday’s match and told his FIVE YouTube channel of his admiration for Loftus-Cheek and Chelsea’s other players.

On goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who made a number of saves, the pundit said: “Shout out to Frank Lampard for signing him because that was a great bit of business. But what a performance!

“A goalkeeper that will instil confidence in a backline. You look back and go, “Yeah, my man is protecting us, don’t worry! They breach us, he’s there and they’ve still got another wall to go through.”

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Ferdinand added: “They’ve got a doggedness about them. Ruben Loftus-Cheek in that deep-lying position was magnificent. I want to see him there regularly.

“Lukaku ain’t scored in six games but they’re still winning games, they’re still looking like a team that are going to be capable of challenging.

“And there’s no doubt in my mind that he comes back and scores a hatful of goals. He’s just having a rough period, all strikers go through that.

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“This Chelsea team are a hard nut to crack.”

One particular career highlight for Loftus-Cheek came in the 2017/18 season under Antonio Conte. Following a solid campaign, he made England’s 2018 World Cup squad.

Tuchel’s Chelsea message to Loftus-Cheek

Chelsea's Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Speaking in September, Tuchel issued a rallying cry to players like Loftus-Cheek, who failed to get a move away from Chelsea in the summer.

He said: “Listen, it’s very easy. If you get registered then it’s your duty to be ready. When you change in the dressing room, come here to Chelsea every day, it’s your duty to be ready. This is the baseline for everything.

“When you step into this building, step onto the changing pitches you have to be ready.

“Once you are on the list, you have to be ready. You have to train every day to play. This is the baseline. Nobody gets gifts here.”

Chelsea’s win over Brentford continued their strong start to the Premier League. They sit top, a point ahead of Liverpool.