Rafa Benitez is pushing to sign Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan according to the Chronicle – however it appears we’ll face stiff competition from Everton and Crystal Palace for the England international midfielder.
The Mirror have also confirmed our interest in taking him on loan today, however they suggest that Everton are at the ‘front of the queue’ for his signature, whilst Crystal Palace are also keen (as you’d expect after his impressive loan spell last season).
Loftus-Cheek could yet be handed a chance at Stamford Bridge if he continues to impress at the World Cup, however it appears as though he’ll only stay at Chelsea this summer if he’s given regular first-team football – and that seems unlikely knowing how they tend to operate.
The Chronicle claim that Benitez has tracked him for over two years now and, although he’s still keen to bring team-mate Kenedy to St James’ Park, it sounds like he’s also desperate to have Loftus-Cheek for a season – with him described as a player he sees as a ‘perfect fit’ for NUFC.
Here’s what the Chronicle have had to say about Rafa’s interest in the 22-year-old today:
“What is clear is that Loftus-Cheek is no longer prepared to sit on the bench next season. He wants first-team football, and said during an interview out in Russia earlier in the week that he is willing to depart the Blues if that’s what it takes in order to guarantee gametime.
“Benitez would give him that. He would not promise Loftus-Cheek that he will start every week, but he will make it clear to the England international that he will be given opportunities as long as he shows application in training and a willingness to improve on Tyneside.
“Newcastle are far from his only suitors ahead of the new season. Palace would love Loftus-Cheek to return to Selhurst Park, Everton are keen on the midfielder, while whoever turns out to be Chelsea’s new head coach could yet hand him an opportunity at Stamford Bridge, as Eagles manager Roy Hodgson suggested may be the case.
“The United manager will point towards Kenedy’s successful stint at St James’ Park – the Brazilian is still a key target for Newcastle this summer, but Benitez has an interest in a few Blues players – as evidence for how Loftus-Cheek can excel in the North East.
“The 22-year-old’s versatility appeals to Benitez. He can play anywhere in midfield – either as a deep-lying player, or across the three attacking positions in Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 formation – and he brings dynamism, physicality and creativity to a United side which is short in such areas.
“He is far from the finished article, while Loftus-Cheek’s persistent injury problems have hindered his progress somewhat, but Benitez knows the midfielder has a huge future ahead of him.
“Kenedy is the player Benitez most wants to sign from Chelsea, but Loftus-Cheek is someone the Spaniard would very much like to sign on loan too.”
It’s an ambitious one and a deal that could be out of our reach if Chelsea’s new manager decides to play him or a more attractive/lucrative loan offer arrives, but it’s definitely one that’s worth pursuing.
If he’s loaned out (which seems likely to me as he’s adamant he needs to play week in week out next season) then it’s not impossible that he’ll end up at Newcastle.
He’ll be playing under a world class manager in Rafa Benitez and he’ll be given a real platform to impress and develop at a big club and big stadium (with passionate fans) where expectation is high.
Some will say it’s unrealistic, but if Chelsea do loan him out then he’ll only go to a team outside the top 6. Everton and Palace’s interest will be big, but the Benitez factor (and his relationship with Chelsea) could come into play.
I’m not holding my breath, but it would be a brilliant signing and real boost for Benitez heading into the new season.