Monday 19 March 2018

Palace boss Frank De Boer excited by on-loan arrival of Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek helped the Blues win the Premier League last season
Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek helped the Blues win the Premier League last season

New Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer is confident Ruben Loftus-Cheek can provide a "quality injection" as he looks to reshape his squad ahead of a first Premier League campaign.

The 21-year-old midfielder completed a season-long loan deal to Selhurst Park from Chelsea and is the first signing since the Dutchman was announced as successor to Sam Allardyce last month.

De Boer has been running the rule over his squad ahead of their opening friendly against Maidstone United, which will be followed by a trip to Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy, also featuring Liverpool, West Brom and Leicester.

There are expected to be a couple of fresh faces before Palace kick off the new domestic campaign against Premier League newcomers Huddersfield at Selhurst Park on August 12.

Defender Jairo Riedewald is said to be close to completing a £7.5million transfer from De Boer's former club Ajax.

De Boer, though, feels Loftus-Cheek is just the right acquisition to begin his rebuilding project.

"He is a very talented player and is a good height and even though he is quite tall, he has very good technique," De Boer said on the Crystal Palace website.

"He is a technical and physical player, so after I looked at our squad I thought he could be a very helpful player for the team and gives us a quality injection.

"He is an attacking midfielder obviously, but with his attacking ability he could also be used as a sitting midfielder.

"We will have to see what is the best position for him and also what will be the best for the team."

After coming through the Chelsea Academy, Loftus-Cheek made his senior first-team debut in the Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon during December 2014.

Loftus-Cheek was played in a more advanced role under Antonio Conte last season, when he made 11 appearances for the Premier League champions as well as in the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

However, a back injury saw his campaign come to an early end and Loftus-Cheek also missed out on the European Under-21 Championship finals with England.

The midfielder is confident he can help Palace look to climb the Premier League table next season as he returns to an area of south London he knows well.

"I had the option of coming to Palace and I thought that it would be great for me," he said.

"I live not too far away, I was born in Lewisham and Palace is a good club so I thought it's a good chance to play here and be a part of the team."

Loftus-Cheek intends to make the most of his opportunities at Selhurst Park.

"The manager is looking forward to working with me, as I am with him. He wants to get to know me and the way I play, so hopefully we can have a good season together," said Loftus-Cheek.

"I always remember Palace as a very strong team, they give everything (and) I would like to be a part of that this season.

"I have played a number of positions over the past couple of years, but recently have been playing in a (number) 10 and front three.

"But for me, it is wherever (I play), so long as I am playing, I am happy."

Loftus-Cheek added: "I just hope to play a lot more games and give everything I have got.

"Hopefully we can do well in the league and the cup competitions, so right now there are high hopes."

Press Association

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