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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Ruben Loftus-Cheek could become 'one of the best midfielders in Europe', insists Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri

England midfielder was superb in the 5-0 win at Dynamo Kiev on Thursday in his first start since early January

Ruben Loftus-Cheek dominated the midfield for Chelsea against Dynamo Kiev. Reuters
Ruben Loftus-Cheek dominated the midfield for Chelsea against Dynamo Kiev. Reuters

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek could become "one of the best midfielders in Europe" after his star display in the 5-0 thrashing of Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League on Thursday.

Chelsea, already in command of the last-16 tie following the 3-0 first-leg win at Stamford Bridge last week, hammered home their superiority at the NSC Olimpiyskiy.

French World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud scored his first hat-trick for the Blues since moving from London rivals Arsenal in January 2018, with Spanish full-back Marcos Alonso and English teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi also in the scoresheet.

Beyond the goalscorers, it was 23-year-old Loftus-Cheek who impressed on his first start since early January, setting up Giroud for Chelsea's opener in the last-16 second-leg tie and using his physicality and pace to dominate the midfield as Kiev struggled to close him down.

"I think [Loftus-Cheek] can become one of the best midfielders, not only in England but in Europe," Sarri told BT Sport after his team advanced to the quarter-finals with an 8-0 aggregate scoreline.

"His potential as a player is very, very, high. Physically, technically and tactically he is improving."

A persistent back injury has limited Loftus-Cheek's playing time this season and Sarri was pleased to see the midfielder play the entire match.

"I'm really happy he could play for 90 minutes," Sarri added. "He did very well. He's improving in the last month and has been able to train after the problem with the back."

Chelsea, who are currently sixth in English top flight, travel to Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

Updated: March 15, 2019 09:17 AM

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