Thomas Tuchel has told Ruben Loftus-Cheek his Chelsea future is “in his hands” after the midfielder featured again in Chelsea’s 2-1 pre-season victory at Arsenal.
Returning from a year-long loan spell at local rivals Fulham, Loftus-Cheek has seen significant action in friendly wins over Bournemouth and the Gunners.
In his post-match press conference, Tuchel encouraged the Englishman to kick on and fight for his place in the squad ahead of the upcoming season.
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“Generally, I am happy and that's why he plays, he deserves to play at this point of the preparation,” Tuchel said.
“But I think he can do even more, he can show up more.
He can show more physical capability and drive more with the ball. I'm never satisfied with him, I have the feeling we need to push him to the absolute limit. He has everything in his hands and it's on him to decide his own future like every player. He has to keep on going 150% because 100% is not enough.
After years disrupted by injury, the 25-year-old had been featuring extensively under Maurizio Sarri during the Italian’s tenure before suffering a serious achilles injury in a friendly scheduled just before the club’s Europa League final in Baku against Arsenal.
It was a heartbreaking setback for Loftus-Cheek, enjoying arguably his best season in a Blues shirt, and he now faces a fight to win his place back at the Champions of Europe.
He is not the only man at Stamford Bridge with an uncertain future, with Thomas Tuchel also fielding questions about Kurt Zouma.
The French defender has been strongly linked with a move to Sevilla, acting as a makeweight in a potential player-plus-cash deal for compatriot Jules Kounde.
Comparing Zouma’s position to Loftus-Cheek, Tuchel said: “Kurt comes from a very different situation.
“Kurt was part of the team for half a year, I know him exactly, what I can demand from him, what he can give to the team.
“When he was needed – and he had some tough decisions against him… he delivered.
“Ruben needs to show now everything in some weeks if that's possible. For Kurt, it's different as I know what he can deliver. It was his first 45 minutes of the season and from now on, we go.”
Goals from Kai Havertz and Tammy Abraham ensured it was a good day's work for Tuchel's side in North London, but the German coach once again found himself answering questions about the finishing of Timo Werner.
Tuchel came to the defence of his compatriot despite another string of misses from the forward.
"He had an assist and we talked and analysed last season often enough given his situation," Tuchel said.
He had a so-so Euros with Germany but that was a concern of the whole team, not his personal problem. I was happy. He was dangerous and there were chances when he could've been more decisive. He could've scored and got another assist.
"So it's a bit the same as last season. But we have just started, it's not the moment now to worry."
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