An Italian coach has altered N’Golo Kante’s role at Stamford Bridge and frozen out Danny Drinkwater, but one England international has met his demands
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has admitted to being one of those forced to alter his game in order to meet the demands of Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.
The Blues boss has a wealth of midfield options at his disposal after adding Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic to his ranks last summer.
World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has been moved out of a holding role amid the competition for places, while Danny Drinkwater has slipped down the pecking order and completely out of favour.
Fellow England international Loftus-Cheek could have found himself heading in the same direction had he not heeded the “honest” advice of an exacting coach.
Loftus-Cheek told Chelsea’s official website of what he has had to do in order to find regular minutes in 2018-19: “He [Sarri] told me I needed to improve on my positioning and develop my defensive awareness if I wanted to play in midfield for him.
“But I worked hard on the things he had talked to me about and I think I’ve improved a lot on that aspect of my game, and he seemed to see the improvement and I think he sees me as a midfielder now too.
“I completely respect the honesty of that and it gave me something to work towards. I’ve improved off the back of it and now I’m playing in midfield, so he’s an honest guy.”
Loftus-Cheek has become a key component in Sarri’s plans after proving his worth, taking in 33 appearances across all competitions.
He is, however, aware that there can be no resting on his laurels with plenty of alternatives ready to take his place.
The 23-year-old added: “There are a few options in midfield and it’s all healthy competition for us, especially in training, pushing you to improve and do the best you can, to give you a chance of playing on the weekend.
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“It definitely gives you that hunger and drive to be the best you can be in training, so it’s good for you personally and good for the team.”
Loftus-Cheek will be hoping to be involved again in Chelsea’s next Premier League outing, with the Blues preparing to take in a meeting with title-chasing Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.