Loftus-Cheek has great potential, but it is tough to make next step, says Conte

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The Blues boss admits he is a fan of his team’s homegrown talent and that he sympathises with his difficulty of establishing himself in the first team

Ruben Loftus-Cheek will stay at Chelsea to fight for his place despite talk of a loan move away in January, and Antonio Conte believes that he will help the squad in their push for the title.

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The 21-year-old has been limited to just three starts under his new manager but Conte wants to offer his England Under-21 international hope that he can continue to develop at Stamford Bridge without going away in search of more game time. 

The Italian indicated he may be able to offer the midfielder more opportunities having sold Oscar to Shanghai SIPG, who often deputised for several players in the squad.

Conte confirmed his faith in Loftus-Cheek’s quality and added that the fledgling star would start against Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday.

“No. Ruben stays here [rather than go out on loan],” Conte said at a press conference at Cobham. “He’s a young player with great potential, and he has another great chance to play from the start tomorrow and to show me I’m seeing very well and he stays here. 

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“Ruben and Chalobah, for sure, will continue to stay with us. For Ola, I think it could be a possibility to go on loan. But there are four days to see the development of this situation.”

Nathaniel Chalobah

Ola Aina could be loaned out, but Nathaniel Chalobah has jumped above Loftus-Cheek in recent weeks having had spells on loan at several clubs including Watford, Reading and Napoli. 

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Chelsea have often been criticised for not promoting enough of their academy players who dominate at youth level – in both Europe and domestic competitions.

But Conte explained that it is difficult for Chelsea to give each of their young players a chance and explained his priorites lie behind youth development at the club. 

“The first thing to say is that, when there are young players, you must understand where is the team where they are? Chelsea are a top team and to play in Chelsea is not easy. Not easy.

“I remember, also, when I was manager of Juventus it was the same. We had young players, very good players, but to get into the first-team often, you need to have a step and then come back.

“It’s very difficult to play in the academy and then the first-team. We are talking about a top team at the top level, so it’s not often this happens, that a player is so strong he can play.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Liverpool

“Ruben has good qualities, good characteristics to stay with us in the first-team, but you must take this decision at the start of the season, not during. During the season, it’s very difficult to change this situation.

“In January, are we sure that a young player will go [on loan] and play? You have to evaluate the situation in the right moment, the right solution, for the player and the club, and take the solution together.”

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