Ruben Loftus-Cheek said he had a “good relationship” with Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri after staking his claim for a regular starting spot with his first senior hat trick in the 3-1 Europa League win over BATE Borisov on Thursday.
Loftus-Cheek, given only his second start of the season, struck twice from midfield in the opening eight minutes and once after half-time at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri, who has challenged Loftus-Cheek to improve his tactical awareness, called the 22-year-old over at almost every break in play to give individual instructions, and after the match said it would be “difficult” to give the academy graduate the number of first-team minutes he wants.
“For a manager who has been in the game for a long time, it would be daft for me not to take in what he is telling me,” Loftus-Cheek said.
“He is a top manager. For me to learn from his is great for my development. I will keep on doing that. I will keep on listening and learning whenever I’m on the pitch or in training.
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) October 25, 2018
“As a player-manager relationship it works — we both have respect for each other. This is a good relationship.
“He is asking me to improve defensively and positionally. We are working on it every day in training and he is very demanding with the team. He is so demanding on shape, but also wants you to play freely as well, which is why we can play such free-flowing football. It is really good work.”
Sources told ESPN FC earlier this month that while Loftus-Cheek may seek a loan move in January he would not be sold.
Chelsea are in the middle of a run of seven matches in 22 days, and Loftus-Cheek’s level of involvement is likely to determine whether he feels he has a role to play under Sarri this season.
He said he found it much easier to action the coach’s tactical instructions in game situations, saying: “When you play, it is different from training.
“You get to see the game, feel the game and it is easier to learn in that sense. You can see it more clearly on the pitch.”
Sarri is looking for a more regular goal threat from his midfield, and Chelsea captain Gary Cahill said he was pleased to see Loftus-Cheek show he is ready to meet the need.
“He is more than capable of getting goals,” Cahill said. “He is at his best when you see him in that little pocket of space and he turns and bursts through. He is so powerful when he opens up in that area and people can’t get near him. He had a fantastic game and was clinical.”