Following a start to the season which has seen Unai Emery’s reputation for developing young players strengthened with the rises of Alex Iwobi, Rob Holding and others in the Arsenal first team, the Spaniard is now said to be lining up a move for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The 22-year-old midfielder emerged as one of the brightest young talents in English football whilst on loan at Crystal Palace last term, with some excellent performances earning him a place in England’s World Cup squad, but Loftus-Cheek has struggled upon his return to Chelsea.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek REALLY struggled in the ‘Who Am I?’ quiz! 路
…he took so long that he almost made Ampadu late for his driving lesson 藍 pic.twitter.com/9QNQI4KtFq
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) October 10, 2018
The midfielder has found his game time at Stamford Bridge heavily restricted under new boss Maurizio Sarri so far this season. According to ESPN, London rivals Arsenal are prepared to take advantage of the situation in January.
It is said that Emery is a big fan of Loftus-Cheek, who is a product of Chelsea’s youth academy. His utilising of young players such as Iwobi, Holding and 18-year-old Emile Smith Rowe in the Gunners’ first team this season suggests the Spaniard could get the best out of the England international.
Emery established a reputation for his effective handling of young talent during his previous spells with Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, and his work with Arsenal’s brightest prospects this term further enhances that clout.
Unai Emery refusing to get carried away with #AFC form. Asked about the “we’ve got our Arsenal back” chants at Fulham, he says: “I am not agreeing totally with the response of the supporters. We need to improve a lot. We have to continue doing a lot of things to get better.”
— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) October 18, 2018
The Gunners’ new head coach would apparently like to move for Loftus-Cheek in a permanent deal, as the Spaniard rates the playmaker’s abilities highly.
Chelsea, though, are said to only be interested in allowing their man to depart on a six-month loan deal which would allow Loftus-Cheek to return to Stamford Bridge to be assessed at the end of the season.
The attack-minded midfield ace, who is also said to be of interest to domestic rivals Everton and Crystal Palace, has played just 33 minutes in the Premier League so far this season under Sarri.
With the likes of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley and Matteo Kovacic ahead of the Englishman in the midfield pecking order in west London, it could be that Loftus-Cheek’s long-term future lies away from Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are set to lose influential midfielder Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer at the end of the season and could view Loftus-Cheek as the ideal replacement for their longest serving player.