Ruben Loftus-Cheek has admitted that he is relishing the chance to play in the derby against Inter, while stating that the position Stefano Pioli has given him allows him to have more ‘freedom’.
Loftus-Cheek spoke on the DAZN ‘Heroes’ segment in view of the derby after being part of a heart-warming club video involving Fikayo Tomori that was published yesterday, with his words relayed by PianetaMilan.
He was first of all asked for some insight into the negotiations that saw him arrive at Milan over the summer, given he had been at Chelsea virtually his entire career before deciding to try a new adventure.
“After I played against them in the Champions League, Milan showed that they were interested in me. I wasn’t thinking about it too much, the season at Chelsea was still long, but towards the end things changed. Milan has always been a great club, after speaking with Pioli I was convinced to move here,” he said.
Prospective new signings generally always have a chat with their potential new head coach, in this case Stefano Pioli, and is seems that he gave assurances to the Englishman regarding the role that he would have.
“I have played in many positions in my career, in the last two years mainly in a defensive position and for me it wasn’t a natural thing,” he continued.
“I’ve always liked having the ball at my feet, having the freedom to create, to be decisive. In the last two seasons I couldn’t do that, that way of playing didn’t make me happy. Now, however, I play in a position where I have more freedom, so I feel good.”
Loftus-Cheek spoke in a bit more detail about the tactical instructions he receives from Pioli, given the decision to switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a three-man midfield over the summer.
“Pioli asks me to be physically dominant in midfield. I like to give the ball to Giroud and then launch into space, because he is a great reference.
“Now I play in a position that gives me more freedom, so I feel better. I want to create and be decisive. I discovered that Italian coaches always want to help you: it also happened to me with Sarri and Conte at Chelsea.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s match against Inter at San Siro – which will be Loftus-Cheek’s first Milan derby – he spoke about his emotions and first of all the battle between the two tops scorers in the league, Olivier Giroud and Lautaro Martinez.
“They are two very different players. Personally I love playing with Olivier because he is very good at holding the ball up. I like to put myself behind him because I know that if I play on him he will then pass it back to me in the perfect spot… it’s really an excellent reference.
“And then he’s very good at scoring with his head. I haven’t seen much of Lautaro coming from the Premier League, but he seems lethal as a finisher.
“I can’t wait to play the derby. They are very strong, but so are we. There is always a key to beating the opponent and we are confident that we have the players and the right mentality to win that match.”