Ralph Hasenhuttl keen for Southampton to complete loan transfer of £20m Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek
According to the Express, Ralph Hasenhuttl is keen to see Southampton sign Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan with a view to making the move permanent next summer.
Hasenhuttl had sought to acquire the Blues talent a year ago but missed out to Fulham, with whom the 25-year-old has been relegated from the Premier League as a key aspect of Scott Parker’s side.
It has been a disappointing season on a personal level for the England international, as well, with Loftus-Cheek only scoring once in 28 top-flight appearances and failing to provide a single assist, yet Hasenhuttl still holds him in high regard.
The Saints boss believes Loftus-Cheek can be a valuable asset at St. Mary’s next term, as he can add a skilful attacking presence to the engine room that hit 10 goals in all competitions during the 2018/19 campaign before missing 13 months due to an Achilles injury.
Hasenhuttl is also determined to strengthen his options on the south coast this summer in order to avoid another end of season dip in a year’s time, having seen his side top the Premier League table in November to finishing in the bottom half after a run of five wins in 24 games.
Southampton are now readying a move to sign Loftus-Cheek, as the 10-cap maestro is not expected to be afforded a role under Thomas Tuchel with N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic all at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea value Loftus-Cheek at £20million and it remains to be seen if they will be open to agreeing on another loan deal, with the midfielder under contract through to 2024 on a £120,000-per-week (Express) contract but ranks low down the west London pecking order.
Loftus-Cheek enjoyed a stellar season in 2018/19 under Maurizio Sarri and has two Premier League titles and a Europa League winners’ medal in his trophy cabinet, but his efforts with Fulham this term have shown he is not the same player after his injury.
Parker may have claimed earlier in the campaign that Loftus Cheek ‘at times is unplayable’ (FourFourTwo) against world-class players, but those performances have been thin and far between this term with arguably his best performance coming against Sheffield United.
He put himself about pitch at home to the Blades in February and posed an occasional threat in the centre, yet still lacked a clinical edge and delivered one of his worst displays at home to Manchester City in March when he struggled to get into the areas that matter.
As Chelsea would surely prefer to move Loftus-Cheek’s vastly lucrative wage off their books in any deal for the midfielder this summer, Hasenhuttl will have to be fully committed to making the move a success for Southampton to sanction a swoop.
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