RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK has emerged as a loan target for Southampton this summer.
Saints were keen on the England midfielder a year ago but lost out when Fulham borrowed him from Chelsea.
Loftus-Cheek, 25, has struggled for form with the Cottagers, scoring just once and registering no assists as Scott Parker’s side were relegated.
Yet Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl remains a fan and is confident he can bring the best out of RLC should he land him in the close season.
The Austrian even namechecked Loftus-Cheek ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Fulham when discussing the talent at Parker’s disposal.
And just last month Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel had seemingly offered Loftus-Cheek hope of a long-term future at Stamford Bridge – with a glowing tribute.
And he even compared the ten-cap star to all-time great Germany hero Michael Ballack.
Tuchel said of RLC: “I was quite a fan of him when he was younger.
“He reminded me of Michael Ballack. There were links with him moving to Germany. We are well aware of his talent.
“I don’t know why things have not worked out as he wished but now he is doing good.
“I cannot judge him from TV and hearsay. I love to work with players then to give my opinion.”
But as well as big-money Blues’ buys, fellow academy products like Mason Mount, 22, and 19-year-old Billy Gilmour are now well ahead of Loftus-Cheek in a congested battle for midfield spots.
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