Tuchel contrasted predecessors with message to ‘special’ Chelsea man

Samuel Bannister
Chelsea's Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Thomas Tuchel told Ruben Loftus-Cheek of his shock that he had not featured more under previous Chelsea managers, it has been revealed.

Loftus-Cheek seems to be finding a new lease of life under Tuchel at Stamford Bridge. The midfielder returned from a loan spell with Fulham this summer and is slowly working his way into contention again.

His time at Craven Cottage allowed him to get back to playing regularly, but wasn’t particularly inspiring. However, with better quality teammates around him, Loftus-Cheek is now showing his own stronger side again.

The England international started Chelsea’s last game before the international break, against Southampton, after also starting an EFL Cup clash with Aston Villa and coming on as a substitute against Manchester City and Juventus in the latter half of September.

Loftus-Cheek’s resurgence has also seen him surpass summer signing Saul Niguez in the midfield hierarchy, for now at least.

How long he will be able to maintain his form and place in the team is something only time will tell. He had been linked with a transfer away, potentially in the January transfer window.

There were rumours of a reunion with ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Roma, for example.

But Tuchel seems to have placed his faith firmly in Loftus-Cheek, meaning he could be likely to stay after all.

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The Athletic have been told by an insider of a conversation during pre-season training.

It is claimed: “Ruben walked across and Tuchel said something along the lines of, ‘You are special. I cannot believe you haven’t played more for Chelsea’. It was a great thing for him to hear.”

Tuchel had even spoken publicly about Loftus-Cheek last season after taking the Chelsea job. When they were due to play Fulham, a game in which Loftus-Cheek was ineligible to play against his parent club, the Blues boss praised the player and compared him to Michael Ballack.

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After a stop-start career so far, Loftus-Cheek will be hoping he can get back on track again under a coach who clearly believes in him still.

Tuchel reaches Saul decision

With a bit of patience, Loftus-Cheek may be rewarded under Tuchel, whose faith in him is now starting to show.

Meanwhile, the coach has also made up his mind about Atletico Madrid loanee Saul, according to reports.

Chelsea have the option to buy Saul at the end of the season, although he has not got off to a good start at Stamford Bridge.

Reports in Spain have claimed that Chelsea already know they will not be buying Saul permanently.

That could be a further sign that there is a long-term place for Loftus-Cheek. In addition, fellow academy product Conor Gallagher – currently on loan at Crystal Palace – may fancy his chances of a return.

There is still time for Saul to adapt and change Chelsea’s minds. But as long as Loftus-Cheek keeps getting opportunities, Tuchel’s preferences seem clear.

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