Thomas Tuchel wants Ruben Loftus-Cheek to boost his confidence by finally realizing his full rich potential at Chelsea.
Loftus-Cheek has excelled in a hybrid role of wing-back and midfield in Chelsea’s wins at Southampton and Real Madrid.
The 26-year-old is finally back to his best after lingering after-effects from his serious torn Achilles tendon in mid-2019.
Loftus-Cheek has spent his full career at Chelsea but remains still to impose his full quality on the Stamford Bridge squad.
The 10-cap star quickly adapted to a new role in the 6-0 win at Southampton and the 3-2 Champions League quarter-final second-leg victory at Madrid, where Chelsea still exited the competition on aggregate.
Although Tuchel is encouraged by Loftus-Cheek hitting form, the Blues boss insisted the powerful operator must now sustain his current level.
“It is not a matter of overconfidence; it is the opposite,” said Tuchel, ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.
“He needs to feel confidence in his body and in his ability to do this not once, twice, but three, four, 10, 20 times in a row.
“And the next step is to do it three times in a row, because he was excellent against Southampton and Madrid. It is little steps. It might sound like far too little steps because of his potential and what is in there.
“The only way is to grow in confidence and become the player he can be.
“Self-confidence does not come from being big and tall and good looking. It comes from experience. I still have the feeling that Ruben is a bit surprised that he can do 105 minutes or 110 minutes in this kind of position.
“He needs to re-impose that. He can do it in training but he needs to do it in games which are very different.
“I don’t think he is fully aware of what he can produce, what he can physically give.
“He is still in the situation where he accepts limits too early. He is used to that and this is where we are. We will keep on pushing.”
Loftus-Cheek’s sterling form might just propel him back into Gareth Southgate’s England plans ahead of the Qatar World Cup in November.
Tuchel insisted however that watching his first England action since 2018 would prove counter-productive for Loftus-Cheek.
“I don’t want to ruin his mood but I think the last thing Ruben needs right now is to think about the World Cup,” said Tuchel.
“Because given his history, coming through the academy, going many times, many times here; even from outside – from Germany and in Paris, all the time he was so promising.
“It was always ‘will he have his breakthrough?’ and he is a certain age now and has not had his breakthrough.
“He is still waiting, still waiting for the next step.
“So for him it is crucial to focus on the very day where he is.
“It can be a huge distraction for him to think a week, two weeks ahead and months ahead about what can be.
“There could already have been so much more.
“It doesn’t make sense to worry because he is where he is. We speak a lot about this. He is still gifted to be here, he is still a huge opportunity. He has everything it takes to play otherwise I would not count on him.
“He has everything but he has heard it for so many years, he has heard it too much. At academy, on the loans, everybody telling him how good his potential is, how good his future can be.
“But the future is only there if you live up to it in the present. He needs to trust himself.
“Hopefully he can produce more of these performances without being injured because this is another part of his story. It’s way too early to think about the World Cup.”