Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has likened Blues loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek to legendary footballer Michael Ballack. Loftus-Cheek has made 82 appearances for Chelsea since graduating from the club’s academy and making his first-team debut in 2014. He has only featured ten times for the Blues since the start of the 2019-20 season, however, spending time on loan at Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Fulham. Loftus-Cheek has shown glimpses of his potential at Selhurst Park and Craven Cottage without fully suggesting he has what it takes to become a key player for Chelsea. But Tuchel insists he has been a ‘fan’ of Loftus-Cheek for a number of years and even said he reminds him of former Germany, Bayern Munich and Chelsea midfielder Ballack. Asked whether Loftus-Cheek will return to Stamford Bridge this summer following his loan stint at Fulham, Tuchel said: ‘It is not decided yet. ‘I was quite a fan of him when he was even younger and he came though the academy and started playing professional football.
‘He reminded me a little bit in his style of play and movement of Michael Ballack. ‘There were some links about him moving to Germany – we were well aware of him. I don’t know why things didn’t work out but he’s doing well on loan now and leaving him footprint. ‘I love to work with players but I need a direct impression and we don’t have that yet. I don’t know what his ideas are or what the club are thinking. We haven’t made a decision yet.’ Fulham hero Lee Clarke, meanwhile, believes Loftus-Cheek will have concerns about his playing time when he returns to Chelsea. He told tribalfootball: ‘For me, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is an outstanding player.
‘He’s got terrific attributes and is technically very gifted with great ability. He can see a pass, go past people, great vision, can deliver the pass short or long. ‘And if he goes back to Chelsea and it’s difficult for him to break through, then yes, I think he has a decision to make. ‘He has got to decide for his own future, for his career, for his England career. He’s already got caps but he can get a lot more if he’s playing regularly. ‘Ruben has got to play in the Premier League week in, week out, and be one of the first names on the team-sheet.’