Southampton are ready to give Ruben Loftus-Cheek another chance to kickstart his career next season. The Chelsea and England midfielder has had a disappointing season on loan at Fulham this year and ended up being relegated, after scoring just once for the Cottagers in 29 games.
But Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is a fan of the 25-year-old and tried to sign Loftus-Cheek last summer before Fulham moved in.
Saints are now planning a bid this summer to take Loftus-Cheek on a season-long loan, with a possible view to a permanent deal if the move works out.
Loftus-Cheek is set to go back to Chelsea when this season ends, but will struggle to break into Thomas Tuchel’s side, with N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic all vying for places.
Hasenhuttl though believes he can work with Loftus-Cheek, and that the skilful, if inconsistent, attacking midfielder, can be an asset to his side next year.
Loftus-Cheek has now fully recovered from his achilles tendon injury but is looking to rediscover the form that saw him score 10 times for Chelsea in 2018-19.
Saints are also set to get Mario Lemina back from his loan at relegated Fulham – who they face at St Mary’s – but he is likely to be sold.
Full-back Ryan Bertrand is leaving at the end of the campaign, and Hasenhuttl has said he needs reinforcements next year if his team are not to have another end of season dip.
Loftus-Cheek, who is on around £120,000 a week at Chelsea, still has three years of his contract to run there, and is valued at around £20million.
Discussing the midfielder last month, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel compared the Three Lions international to Michael Ballack, one of Germany’s all-time greats.
“I was quite a fan of him when he was even younger,” explained Tuchel.
“I don’t know what my opinion is or the club’s opinion is. There’s no decision made yet.”
Southampton meanwhile lifted themselves up to 14th by beating Crystal Palace last time out and hit the 40-point mark in the process.
After facing Fulham, the south coast club take on Leeds and West Ham in their final two matches.
They can finish no higher than 12th unless there is a huge goal difference swing between themselves and Aston Villa and that is also reliant on Southampton winning three from three.
Southampton could still yet finish 17th with Brighton only three points behind them, albeit with an inferior goal difference.
Published at Fri, 14 May 2021 21:30:00 +0000