In February 2016, Chelsea offered a five-year contract worth £60,000 per week to academy graduate, Ruben Loftus-Cheek. This raised plenty of dust as the club was criticised for paying crazy money to a young player who had only played 134 minutes of topflight football. More curious were perceptions that the Blues were paying him for his potential rather than his production. One staunch critic of Chelsea’s financial spree was Former Spurs and QPR Manager, Harry Redknapp. Writing in his Evening Standard column, Redknapp explained:
“If Chelsea are paying Ruben Loftus-Cheek £60,000 a week, he has got to make it there as a first-team player.
“He may only be 20 years old but he has to play, otherwise both parties have made a real mess of it. In another year, he won’t be potential any more. People will argue he should be playing regularly if he is good enough.
“What do they do if he doesn’t crack it? Let’s say he doesn’t improve and they want him out. Who is going to take him on those wages? He could only play at a top Premier League club on that money.
“If you are Queens Park Rangers, you ring up and say, ‘Can we loan him?’. Chelsea would say ‘Yeah, he’s on £60k a week.’ ‘Oh, we can only pay him £10k.’ ‘Right, who’s going to pay the other £50k?’
“He would be stuck at Chelsea and they would be stuck with him. He should be on a short-term contract. Years ago, you’d go into the manager’s office at the end of the year and he’d decide whether you got another year or not. He wouldn’t care whether you were Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters or whoever.
“Now, they get five-year contracts and are paid huge money as kids. How hard does he have to work now on a five-year deal?
“He does look a prospect. I like him as a player but he needs to play League football and not rest on his laurels. Starting now.”
The pressure to become one the real stars of the prestigious Chelsea academy was emanating from all corners. Expectations increased and production was duly required from the young midfielder. If last season was anything to go by, then it appeared clearer than ever that Loftus-Cheek’s future might not be Chelsea-bound after he made few appearances with little impact. To complicate issues, the sales of Matic and Chalobah were compensated by the purchases of Drinkwater and Bakayoko. Yet again, there won’t be a place for young Ruben. It looked as though Chelsea had made a mess of the deal, but surprisingly the club decided to loan him to Crystal Palace.
The player has been brilliant with the Eagles this season which earned him his first Senior England cap against Germany. His man-of-the-match display against the Reigning World Champions was greeted with lot of cheers. While his stock rises as the season progresses, Chelsea will only hope when he finally returns to the club, he’ll be ready to repay them back with quality production with his potentials.
Let’s hope for the best.