Chelsea’s last Premier League fixture of the season against Leicester City may seem like a game that has little real significance after the west London club secured their Champions League spot last weekend.
But with a chance to finish in third place ahead of their fierce rivals Tottenham, Maurizio Sarri’s men will be desperate for the three points.
As for Leicester, despite missing out on a Europa League place, they have still managed to improve immensely under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers.
And heading into the match, two players who will look to impress are James Maddison and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will both be aiming for a place on the plane to the Nations League finals in June.
But how do the two young, attacking English midfielders compare? Who should be regarded as the better talent? Let’s analyse it further below.
Let’s start with the Leicester man who signed for the club in a reported £22m summer transfer from Norwich City. The attacking midfielder showed an abundance of promise during his time with The Canaries. He scored 14 goals and assisted eight in his final season at the club and has continued to progress this season.
The 22-year-old has both scored and assisted seven goals in 35 Premier League appearances this campaign. However, it’s not just his stats that are impressive. The Englishman has seamlessly fit into the Premier League. He looked a match for any of Manchester City’s midfielders in their recent close affair. Maddison has great vision, an eye for goal and is as good a crosser as any. He has emerged as one of England’s and the Premier League’s brightest prospects.
The midfielder is now valued at £27m (as per Transfermarkt) but it would certainly take more than that to prize him away form Leicester. Maddison will thrive under the ball-playing management of Rodgers, who will be desperate to keep him this summer. There will be an array of teams interested, however. It will be fascinating to see if Leicester can keep hold of their key men, of which Maddison is definitely one.
TT Grade: A
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a difficult career at Chelsea, largely struggling to break into the team over the years. The 23-year-old joined the London club aged eight, but has only this season truly emerged as a prominent figure in their squad despite making his debut in 2014.
The midfielder has always been recognised for his talent, but has been brushed aside in a Chelsea team that has relied more on transfer incomings than its academy. A successful loan spell at Crystal Palace saw the youngster get his chance under new boss Sarri, however. The Englishman has scored six goals and assisted two in 23 league appearances this season, 17 of which have come as a substitute. Although worse figures than Maddison, he has played significantly fewer games. In fact, Loftus-Cheek has played only 812 minutes in the league this season, compared to Maddison’s 2765 – quite a difference.
Loftus-Cheek is now valued at £22,5m (as per Transfermarkt) and it would be no surprise if his stock continues to rise in the coming years. Clearly the talent is there, but it’s difficult to analyse his ability on such few minutes. Additionally, the midfielder played more than twice the minutes while on loan at Crystal Palace last season, but managed just two goals and four assists. It would be interesting to see how Loftus-Cheek would perform if given a full season in the first team.
TT Grade: B
When comparing the two domestically, Maddison has to take the win. Yet, Loftus-Cheek has 10 caps for England, including three at the World Cup. Maddison, on the other hand, is yet to make his full debut for England. However, with the season drawing to a close, it would surprise few to see Maddison ahead of the Chelsea man in the England pecking order.
Chelsea and Leicester fans, who would you rather have in your team? Would Loftus-Cheek compare admirably if given the same amount of time? Comment below.