Everton might well have missed their chance to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the Chelsea man starting to flourish at Stamford Bridge.
The England international was handed his first Premier League start for the Blues by Maurizio Sarri against Brighton on Wednesday.
Loftus-Cheek provided a goal and an assist before leaving the action to rapturous applause on 82 minutes.
It was undoubtedly one of his best performances for Chelsea this season, and fans are now clamouring for him to become a mainstay in the side ahead of Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic.
Sarri said after the game (quoted by The Independent): “He played very well and scored a wonderful goal but then had a little problem with his hamstring. Nothing serious, only a cramp I think.
“But tomorrow I want to be sure of the situation about his back.”
Loftus-Cheek is seriously starting to come on at Chelsea and arguably his chances of leaving in the summer have diminished significantly after his man-of-the-match display against the Seagulls.
Everton were linked with a loan move for the former Crystal Palace loanee last summer as Marco Silva arrived at Goodison Park (The Mirror).
A move never materialised, and given the player’s lack of game time in the earlier stages of 2018/19, it had looked like a missed opportunity.
Everton surely don’t have any hope now of signing the player in the summer if they were still interested, with the 23-year-old enjoying much more game time. Certainly there will be especially little hope if Chelsea fail with their transfer ban appeal (FIFA hearing on April 11 as reported by The Daily Mail).
His recent form could see him start more games between now and May, and Everton could be left to rue not trying harder to secure the talented ace’s signature.