Ruben Loftus-Cheek insight: Scouting report, stats, transfer rating and more

By Rohit Rajeev -

AC Milan completed their second official signing of the summer last week, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek joining from Chelsea on a four-year deal.

Loftus-Cheek was heavily linked with a move to Milan in the weeks leading up to the end of the 2022-23 season when Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara looked to be lining up business for the summer.

Their sacking then caused the rumours to slow down, but by the time they fired back up again things moved very quickly from an initial offer to the player being due in Italy for a medical at La Madonnina clinic.

Loftus-Cheek is the first of several additions needed to help fill the void left after Sandro Tonali’s exit, and Fabrizio Romano reports that it is a €16m initial fee plus €4m in add-ons to Chelsea.

Back story

Born in Lewisham in London and of Guyanese descent, Loftus-Cheek actually grew up in Kent and went to High Firs Primary School and Orchards Academy.

Growing up watching football on TV, he idolised Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry who were two of the greats of that time, although in his first interview with Milan TV he revealed he also admired Kaka’s remarkable dribbling ability.

Loftus-Cheek joined Chelsea at the age of eight and rose through the ranks thanks to his technical ability but also his physique. A hip injury set him back but he made it to the U18 and then the U21 level – the last one before the senior side.

The honours rolled in with the youth team at Chelsea as he won the 2011-12 and 2013-14 FA Youth Cup as well as the U21 Development League in 2013-14 and the UEFA Youth League – the youth equivalent of the Champions League – a year later.

At the end of the 2012-13 season he was even named in the first-team squad for a post-season friendly against Manchester City, showing that the senior management were keeping a firm eye on his development.

Loftus-Cheek made his senior debut for the Blues back in December 2014, replacing Cesc Fàbregas for the final stage of a Champions League group stage game against Sporting CP at Stamford Bridge.

His first Premier League appearance came in January 2015, and then Jose Mourinho promoted him fully into the first-team squad. He made three appearances that season, but got a Premier League winners’ medal because Mourinho valued his contribution so much.

Stylish Chelsea pick up Youth League title | UEFA Youth League |

After signing a five-year deal in February 2016, an interesting period under Antonio Conte followed in which he was tried as a striker in preseason.

The 2017-18 season saw him loaned to Crystal Palace where he generally impressed and they even tried to sign him permanently, but Maurizio Sarri wanted to make him a part of his plans.

Under Sarri he played his best football, showing the qualities we will go on to highlight further on in the piece, but he suffered an achilles injury during a charity match against New England Revolution which would set him back a year.

By the time he was ready to go again and with another five-year deal signed, the Covid pandemic hit. By this point a lot of his formative years were being impacted as a young player.

He was loaned to Fulham in October 2020 for the remainder of the season but they really struggled and were relegated without much of a fight which did not help his confidence.

There is also an England career to mention at this point too, having made his debut with the U16s in 2011 and playing for the U17s, U19s and U21s, with whom he scored seven goals in 17 games.

His full England debut came in 2017 and he has made 10 appearances for his country so far, most notably being part of the squad for Gareth Southgate’s side’s run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

We spoke to Simon Johnson from The Athletic about Ruben, who he has gotten to know very well over his years covering Chelsea, and he told us an anecdote from before that semi-final against Croatia which revealed a lot about his ultra laid-back demeanour.

A period in the wilderness at Chelsea brings us up to today, with a merry-go-round of managers all trusting Loftus-Cheek to varying degrees in varying roles.

After 19 years as a Chelsea player with 155 apperances, 13 goals and 18 assists to his name, he decided it is time for a new experience at 27 on the cusp of his prime.

Playing style

Having played under many managers, Loftus-Cheek has played in a few different roles but his best season came under Sarri at Chelsea playing as a No.8 on the left side of the midfield three.

Loftus-Cheek is not someone who likes to see the ball a lot: he is someone who loves to make off the ball runs and act as a passing option.

When playing under Sarri, he would occupy the half spaces in the attacking half of the pitch while playing alongside Eden Hazard with whom he built a good bond.

Against Milan he played in the midfield pairing in a 3-4-3 under Graham Potter and acted as more of the defensive midfielder while Mateo Kovacic was the deep-lying playmaker. He was given the task to mark Charles De Keteleare against the Rossoneri.

Loftus-Cheek does not physically press players but he is tactically adept to cover passing lanes, a style of play Pioli uses. Standing at 1.91m tall, he is able to use his rather long legs to reach for balls and recover them.

He isn’t a tough tackler which makes him unsuited for a defensive midfielder role. The 27-year-old rarely touches the wide areas and likes to say inside or the half spaces while operating as a passing option to players who are pressed wide by the opposition.

Even though he is a very sizeable guy, his movements are silent and quick and this has given him the ability to make runs behind defenders into space.

Using his tall frame he is able to receive kicks from the keeper or make defensive headers, although he isn’t very aerially very dominant. Trying to use his physicality means he draws a lot of fouls.

In terms of passing, he is usually someone who opts for the safest option. He tends to re-cycle possession and keep the ball in play.


Physicality: At 191cm tall, Loftus-Cheek has a very big frame and he uses this to get effect. He is not easily pushed off the ball, instead using his size as a shield against the opposition player. His hold up play is also good which makes him draw a lot of fouls.

Finding spaces: From a tactical standpoint, Loftus-Cheek has a keen sense of finding space and this makes him a very good passing option for any player. Whether vertically or between the lines, he likes to find pockets of space and attract press towards him freeing up more creative players to make forward runs.

Tight spaces and attacking runs: With a good first touch and decent close control, Loftus Cheek can help his team-mates escape the press and in-turn dribble forward or make the pass to avoid losing possession. He likes to make diagonal runs behind defenders into space and if the creative player can find him then it can lead to a dangerous situation.

Ball carrying and pace: Loftus-Cheek has an ability to accelerate very quickly with or without the ball, making him extremely useful during counter-attacking situation. As reflected in his numbers, he is more of a dribbler than a passer and he carries the ball a fair bit.

Areas to improve

Injuries and mentality: Having a start-stop career due to injuries means Loftus-Cheek has had his confidence dented a lot. He was a player that was confident on the ball, but now can appear over-cautious and not making runs behind the defence like he once used to.

Going missing: As somebody who does not see the ball much, Loftus-Cheek can get lost in the middle of a match and have no impact on the game, which is not ideal when looking to establish a foothold.

Defensive work rate: If RLC truly has to hit heights then he should improve his defensive work rate and cover more ground.

End product: For a player who plays an advanced role, Loftus-Cheek’s best season had 15 goal contributions in 2018-19 but since then his numbers have been poor. One can attribute this to little game time, but he certainly has the quality to improve.


In 2022-23 the Cobham graduate played 25 games in which he had 19 starts and 1536 minutes.

In terms of passing (all stats per 90 minutes) he attempted a total 46 passes with a passing accuracy of 86.2%. He completed close to 1.05 passes into the penalty box per game.

As described, Loftus-Cheek acts as a passing option whole Chelsea are trying to move into opposition box under pressure. He averages 5.03 passes received in the opposition half of play which shows his usefulness to the sides progression.

In terms of Shot Creating Actions (SCA) and Goal Creating Actions (GCA), Loftus Cheek averages 2.11 SCA per game and 0.23 GCA per 90.

Defensively Loftus Cheek’s Tackles Won plus Interceptions average is at around 2.16 per game while winning 46% of his aerial duels. As mentioned, Loftus-Cheek’s style of play gets a lot of fouls to the extent he draws almost 2 fouls per game.

Finally, he is an excellent ball carrier. His Ball Progression per 90 while Dribbling is 3.27 per game of which 1.7 is into the final third of the pitch.

Statistical comparison

Defensive actions: Tackles + Interceptions + Blocks per 90.

Offensive actions: Progressive Carries + Progressive Passes + Progressive passes received.

As we can see here Ruben Loftus-Cheek is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in terms of offensive actions. This would be a welcome change for Milan fans who have seen their side crumble or settle for draws against teams lower in the table and needing a spark from midfield with Bennacer or Tonali unable to provide it.


With ‘Moneyball’ taking effect on Milan after Maldini’s departure, the club have embarked on yet another risky summer. Loftus-Cheek is yet to prove himself but has been touted as a Rolls Royce football player.

Given the talent pool of midfielders available at Milan with the departure of Tonali, Milan need not just starting players but good depth to manage the work load all season.

Transfer rating: 7/10

Tags AC Milan Ruben Loftus-Cheek


  1. 2/10 for me this guy has never been a consistent starter for Chelsea,made us waste a non eu spot for a far superior free kamada and cost 20 million. He also seems to be too attacking to properly replace tonali

      1. 6/10 based on what? That Milan wasted 20mil on injury prone 27year old or the fact that he cost Milan an EU spot? Its a terrible move and looking at his history he will just get injured and sit on the bench for a good part of the season taking a big sallary. They could have signed a promising DM with that money and also get Kamada for free.

        1. He’s already signed anyway. RLC idol is Kaka so will he be a tall and fast midfielder or the management will regret his signing bc of non-eu and doesn’t give much impact to team performance in serie a and ucl.

        2. 6/10 based on his potential i guess. Basic for a transfer is 5/10.
          And 20M in reality is a very low fee. Just take note, Arsenal is throwing 100M on a random dude like Rice who has a year left on his contract . 100M!
          As for the noneu, they knew they have 2 spots. Now they’re running around looking at a dozen noneu players.
          I’ll wait and see if he does go on to be injured all the time before whining…

          1. No it’s never too early to start whining. My crystal ball says he’s a useless benchwarmer who’ll leave with 0 assists 0 goals. Oh my poor AC Milan has been destroyed by Americans!

    1. Yeah should have been dominguez bc he’s cheaper (negotiable), younger, proven, and argen player offered like Khvicha back then

  2. I hope this transfer works, welcome RLC.

    However I’d like to underline something that bothers me.. 19 years at Chelsea and only 155 apps? I think Tonali has around 130ish in 3 years. I know that midfield department at Chelsea is stacked and of course he has been at Chelsea since 8. But, still, 155apps is pretty low mileage. Would he cope with extra burden of playing time at Milan? Not to mention that we are currently pretty light in midfield department. Considering his injury history, pushing him to suddenly crank up his usage rate would probably end up disasteous. Fingers crossed and hopefully I am wrong.

    1. “19 years at Chelsea and only 155 apps?”

      Slow down a second. The guy is 27, right? 27-19=8. So he joined Chelsea when he was 8 years old, right? “Apps” mean matches in the men’s level. They don’t count the junior level matches here. So… During the ages between 8-18(ish) he played zero matches in the Chelsea’s men’s team. Yeah. How about that? Does that come as a surprise to anyone? 🙂

      1. 27-18=9. 9-2(loaned out) =7
        At 27 with average playing time 22 with total 155 apps over 7 years is really poor. Dude never hit his peak. Definitely not after 27

  3. I don’t understand how people are thinking that any player could’ve played more matches at Chelsea. Lol. Chelsea would probably not give that amount of matches to a combination of Milan midfielders from last 10 years, might not even want any of the past Milan midfielders from then on in their squads. I’m not joking. They don’t have time to help players gain experience or regain confidence. Keeping RLC around for this long ,on a high salary, shows he’s been showing something special. Clubs just tend to not value their own products. How many Chelsea youth products there could only get to the top after leaving the club. Perhaps RLC have overstayed. I don’t doubt that he’ll be an upgrade to the Milan midfield if can stay healthy which is my only concerned but even then I’m confident that Milan fans will be able to see how good he is.

    1. Calm down, loftus is good player if he stays fit last players we have that I can compare to him were kaka and sedorf

  4. I welcome him and he deserves our full support. I really hope he does great, we all want to see Milan succeed and I’ll be rooting for him but let’s be honest, this is an Crystal Palace or Wolverhampton kinda signing, we’re not gonna lie to each other. Maybe he will surprise everyone and have a very good season, hopefully but as of right now that’s what this is.

  5. Not many athlete can be back to what they were after ACL. He was Bellingham before ACL tore. Now, only shadow of his former self. Yes serie A slower pace might suit him now, but the league physicality might broke him further.

    1. RLC had his Achilles teared – not ACL. And rehab for Achilles is longer and more difficult process.

      And coming from ACL injuries – if rehab done right! – the player can return to the same level as he was prior. But I’m not that familiar with the Achilles related ones but I’d say it’s harder to come back from those than from ACL as the joints work very differently and people can actually play football without the ACL but definitely not without the Achilles heel.

  6. This guy is either will be hero for us, or he will be out of the club next year
    ratings cant be measured

  7. Waste of funds. He will be 28 mid-season, has never had an amazing season but has always had talent and potential… at 28 your time for potential is up. For 20m also his resale is likely never going to make the money back. Absolutely awful signing, there is a 10% chance he surprises and is excellent but doubtful. he’ll be average and sorry but average isn’t 20m.

    Crazy we haven’t signed kamada yet but we got this guy…

  8. “He likes to make diagonal runs behind defenders into space and if the creative player can find him then it can lead to a dangerous situation.”

    The thing is though… There are no creative players in the squad. Especially the midfielders are all “pass backwards”-type of players with zero creativity. Except for Adli but with 100 minutes per season I wouldn’t even call him a Milan-player.

  9. With ‘Moneyball’ taking effect on Milan after Maldini’s departure, the club have embarked on yet another risky summer. Loftus-Cheek is yet to prove himself but has been touted as a Rolls Royce football player.

    Lol Rolls Royce in a landfill maybe, def not off the showroom. 😂😂😂
    Yea I’d also like to know where our “new” direction was heading given they’re about buying young and cheap and sell for value. None of this makes sense
    I’ll do a star comparison with Tonali later

  10. So Sandro Tonali vs RLC, what we gain and what we lose:

    Well first off Sandro played 30 games for a total of 2700+ minutes. RLC 19 games for 1500+ mins but long enough to make the comparison worthwhile.

    Overall Sandro has more goals and assists and more shots per game..RLC has a better pass accuracy 88% and by a large margin too (v 81 for Tonali)

    Defensively Tonali has better tackles interceptions, blocks and offside creation than RLC
    RLC has better defensive dribbles, clearances and fouling rate than Tonali.
    The gap in defensive stats favours Tonali (ie Tonali is better at the things he does best compared to RLC)

    Offensively, Tonali is better at goals, assists, shots per games, gets dispossessed less per game and has better key passes per game.
    RLC has better dribbles per game, is fouled more times in offense, and has less bad touches in the offense than Tonali.
    Once again the gap in the metrics favours Tonali as he performs better in this category.

    Passing: with the exception of passing percentage completion, Tonali has better stats in ALL categories: assists, key passes, avg number of passes, crosses, long balls, through balls you name it.
    Matter of fact you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Europe last year with those stats.

    Yea so there you have it, we def have not replaced Tonali. We do get a better passing accuracy and and dribbling but we lose out in the physical side of the defensive midfield, not to mention goal contributions.

    Not my two cents, just bare facts

    1. “Not my two cents, just bare facts”

      But you neglect one key fact here though. They played in very different leagues. EPL is faster faster and physical than Serie A. You have way less time and you have to be quicker in EPL than in Serie A. Let’s see how the stats look like after this season. I bet RLC is shining in every section compared to Tonali’s figures.

      1. So how does that change the stats? In what way?
        It’s obvious there’s two different systems
        All i did was laid out the same stats for two different players in the same categories. Unless there’s a way to have a counterfactual you can’t assess the difference between the leagues or unless I run more advanced stat work on jt

  11. “So how does that change the stats? In what way?”

    So you think stats from two very different leagues are 1:1 comparable? We just saw with CDK who had awesome stats in Belgium scored 0 goals in Serie A last season. If all stats are 1:1 comparable, shouldn’t he have continued with the similar stats than in Belgium?

    If you fail to understand why passing or defensive stats can change after switching from a slow paced league to a fast paced one (or vice-versa) then I’m not going to bang my head against the wall trying to educate you. Faster pace means shorter time to react. Fraction of time to make the right decision. RLC will feel at ease after noticing how much time he has on the ball in Italy.

    1. Bro…I’m literally asking you lol 😂😂😂.I’m asking you directly where you think the stats will go and to what degree….for instance is a goal “worth more” in Serie A because of tough defenses and tactics or are interceptions worth more in EPL because of less tactics? And to what degree (1.x Serie goals equal 1 epl eg?) Just a genuine question. It could be that epl goals are worth more too, statistically.

      You don’t have to read just one or two lines in my the whole thing. What u wrote here is literally in my post. I said you can’t adjust for the difference between leagues unless you model for it. All I did was lay out stats in the same categories but did offer to bridge some of the gap without needing to go overly complex based my professional experience. Aye iy iy 🤦‍♂️

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