ALVISE CAGNAZZO: Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found his best form in Italy after shining in midfield for AC Milan… the former Chelsea star MUST be on Gareth Southgate's radar heading into the Euros
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ALVISE CAGNAZZO: Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found his best form in Italy after shining in midfield for AC Milan… the former Chelsea star MUST be on Gareth Southgate's radar heading into the Euros

Mar 20, 2024

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been reborn in Italy thanks to his experience at AC Milan

He’s a complete player who replaced Sandro Tonali, after his summer transfer to Newcastle, not only in the heart of the midfield but also in that of Rossoneri fans. 

His transfer to Italy was considered a calculated risk by AC Milan, who chose the most cost-efficient replacement for Italian midfielder – only spending £17million (€20m) on Loftus-Cheek.

The better climate, the sudden change in diet and the presence of Rossoneri coaches specialised in the prevention of muscle overload allowed Loftus-Cheeck to become one of the irreplaceable players for Stefano Pioli – despite his previous injuries.

Here, Mail Sport’s Alvise Cagnazzo takes a look at the midfielder’s resurgence since arriving on Italian soil. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found his best form once more since moving to AC Milan in summer

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found his best form once more since moving to AC Milan in summer

His performances in Milan have lead to suggestions he deserves an England recall

His performances in Milan have lead to suggestions he deserves an England recall

The numbers don’t lie… 

During his 24 games in Serie A – a personal best for him at this point of the season – Loftus-Cheek has managed to provide five goals and one assist. 

Even in the Europa League the former Chelsea star has proved to be decisive – having recorded three goals from his three appearances in the competition.

Loftus-Cheek has become a fundamental element of Stefano Pioli’s Milan and the hope from the Rossoneri is that the Premier League has forgotten about him.

Following his goals against Rennes and Slavia Prague in Europe, Loftus-Cheek needs just three more goals to match his best-ever tally in a season.  

During his 75 minute cameo in the game, in addition to the 2 goals, he played 33 balls, completed 21 passes without errors and completed two dribbles.

Under the guidance of Stefano Pioli (L), Loftus-Cheek has become an indelible part of the side

Under the guidance of Stefano Pioli (L), Loftus-Cheek has become an indelible part of the side

Southgate needs a player like him… 

With Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips struggling, it’s a surprise that Loftus-Cheek’s name hasn’t cropped up in England conversations more often.

In fact, Gareth Southgate should consider handing the AC Milan star a starting place in England’s midfield. 

The times of Steve Gerrard, Paul Scholes and Frankie Lampard are long gone however Loftus-Cheek – given his impressive physical condition – can be on a par with his illustrious predecessors.

In the last month and a half, Loftus-Cheek has scored double the goals he had scored in the previous five seasons combined – which must be considered by Southgate.

In Italy he’s also corrected his physical posture and, thanks to his work in the gym, ha developed a large portion of muscle that has benefited his game.

Italy has been a regenerative oasis for illustrious English players in the past, with the cases of Fikayo Tomori and Chris Smalling serving as evidence. 

The fortune of British players who choose Italian football is calibrated to the different type of competitive approach. 

In Serie A you run less than in English football but you acquire greater physical strength and individual technique.

With Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips struggling, Loftus-Cheek deserves a look-in

With Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips struggling, Loftus-Cheek deserves a look-in

Shining in Serie A… 

Coach Pioli gave him confidence by directing him towards a second part of his career that was different from the previous one. 

The Milan recently explained to DAZN what he asks of the English player, as he said: ‘He must score, he must fill the penalty area with muscles and technique. 

‘I’m not saying that he must always aim to reach 10 goals in the championship but he has to stay inside the penalty area because he also scores with his head, he’s good one-on-one. He has the qualities.’

After Teun Koopmeiners of Atalanta and Adrien Rabiot of Juventus, the Englishman is the third best attacking midfielder in Serie A. 

He has physical strength, a progressive speed and manages to win many acrobatic duels thanks to his perfect timing. 

The 28-year-old is close to matching his best-ever goalscoring tally in the 2023-24 campaign

The 28-year-old is close to matching his best-ever goalscoring tally in the 2023-24 campaign

Italy lacks midfielders of this technical-tactical weight and Loftus-Cheek has become Milan’s best signing in terms of performance and purchase cost ratio.

While Loftus-Cheek is more of a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder, and Sandro Tonali was more defensive, the former Chelsea star has no problem defending inside his own box.

His idols have always been Theirry Henry and Zinedine Zidane but, some time ago, the Englishman declared to Gazzetta dello Sport that he was inspired by Frank Lampard. 

A lion of midfield who he also had as a coach and it is not impossible that, by staying in Italy for longer, he could become the heir of the Chelsea icon by perfecting his technical qualities.

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