Christian Pulisic might be the one stealing the headlines after the first two games of the season, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also deserving of praise.
MilanNews recall the request that Stefano Pioli made to the management before the summer window began: “The requests were to find wingers good in 1v1 situations, from in behind or from receiving the ball at their feet.
“Because last year we lacked in those games where we came up against deep block defences, so those individual plays can solve those situations for you.
“And then penetrating midfielders: we had in mind to build in a certain way and attack in another way, therefore to have a slightly more fluid construction with 5 players and to have slightly more fixed positions with 5 players on the ball.”
Pulisic and Tijjani Reijnders have already stolen the eye, Samuel Chukwueze, Yunus Musah and Noah Okafor will be seen more soon, but Loftus-Cheek has immediately been among the best performers since the start of preseason.
At 1.91m tall and with an imposing physique, the Englishman has shown an ability to play further forward – joining the front three at times – but also to help out in the defensive phase and to cover a lot of the ground in between
Loftus-Cheek is valuable in coverage and in aggression, because when he gets into his stride while carrying the ball opponents tend to just bounce off him. He is perhaps less flashy than Reijnders, but just as concrete when he needs to be.
He had nine successful passes in the attacking third against Bologna, three chances created, two key passes, two successful dribbles (only Leao had better with 3) and of course one assist.
What transpires from the pitch is that we’re really only at the beginning. Pioli asks his players to know how to read the spaces, to occupy them or to leave them free for team-mates, and Loftus-Cheek is ticking all the right boxes.
Against Roma and Inter, two particularly intense and physical teams, he will have to give continuity to this positive start.