‘It’s now or never’ – Tuchel makes emotional plea to Loftus-Cheek

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Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has always been seen as a player with so much potential.

Loftus-Cheek came out of Cobham as Chelsea’s most promising youngster, and was tipped to be the one that will take over from John Terry as an academy graduate that became a mainstay in the Chelsea first team.

Now 26, Loftus-Cheek can no longer be called a young player anymore. The Cobham graduate should be playing top level football on a consistent basis.

Loftus-Cheek spent the 2017/18 campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, and had a successful time there, but couldn’t build on it due to injury. Under Maurizio Sarri, he became a key player for Chelsea but got injured before the Europa League final, and he hasn’t really reached that height ever since – a form that saw him earn an England call-up.

Tuchel spoke about Loftus-Cheek at large during his pre-match press conference ahead of the FA Cup semi-final, and the Blues boss has told Loftus-Cheek that it’s time to step up.

“We knew the player all the time,” Tuchel said of Loftus-Cheek during his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace.

“It was so promising, but it was always like, will he have his breakthrough? Now, will he have his breakthrough? He is at a certain age now, and he’s never had his breakthrough, everybody is still waiting, still waiting for the next step and the next step.

“So for him, it’s crucial, crucial, crucial to focus on the very day he is in. It can be a huge distraction to think a week ahead, two weeks ahead, or a month ahead about what can be. There could have been so much more, and it does not make sense to worry because he is where he is.

“We speak a lot about this. He is gifted to be here, and it is a huge, huge opportunity. He has everything that it takes – he wouldn’t play, or we wouldn’t count on him otherwise – but he has heard this for many years, maybe too much. He heard this throughout the academy levels. Through the loans, everybody was telling him how good the potential is and how big a future there can be. But the future is only there if you live up to it in the present.

“He needs to trust himself. With him, it’s not overconfidence with him, it’s the opposite. He needs to get confidence in his body physically and his ability to do this [type of performance] not once or twice, but three, four, ten, twenty times. The next step is to do it for the third time in a row because he was excellent against Southampton [and Real Madrid].

“So it’s little steps, and while it may even sound like it is too little given the potential and what’s all in there, and even given the performances he can produce, but it’s actually not. It’s the only way to grow in confidence and become the player, finally, that he can be. But it’s in him.”

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Chelsea is more than just a football club to me; it's a passion I share, and my affinity with the Chelsea badge is one that will last forever. As far as watching my favourite team is concerned, I'd rather miss a meal than miss a Chelsea game.