Crystal Palace have confirmed the season-long loan signing of Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The Chelsea midfielder becomes Frank de Boer’s first signing as Eagles boss, after the Dutch coach was announced as Sam Allardyce’s successor a little over two weeks ago.
Who is Loftus-Cheek?
The 21-year-old came to prominence in 2014 when he captained the Blues’ Under-18 side to FA Youth Cup success at the end of the 2-13-14 campaign, before making his first team debut in December 2014. The then-18-year-old replaced Cesc Fàbregas in a Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon and made his Premier League bow the following month as a substitute against Manchester City. He was then rewarded with a first start against Liverpool in May 2015.
Loftus-Cheek featured more regularly in the 2015-16 season and scored his first Chelsea goal in an FA Cup tie against Scunthorpe United, before netting his first top-flight goal against Aston Villa in April.
However, the arrival of N'Golo Kanté in the summer of 2016 and Antonio Conte’s change of formation to a 3-4-3 meant that Loftus-Cheek was placed further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. He made just six league appearances in the 2016-17 season, mainly as a substitute.
Internationally, Loftus-Cheek has been capped by England at every youth level from Under-16 to Under-21, making 17 appearances for the latter and scoring seven times. The Lewisham-born player is generally used as an attacking midfielder for England and recently for Chelsea, however admitted in an interview with Palace TV that he was a defensive midfielder for the Blues’ youth teams.
Palace to kick-on with signings
Loftus-Cheek is expected to be the first of a number of signings made by de Boer. The Eagles have been linked with a move for Ajax’s 20-year-old defender Jaïro Riedewald, who the Guardian believe is close to a move worth £7.5 million.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has completed a move back to Marseille, who he joined the Eagles from just over a year ago.