By Harry Sykes
Newcastle are firmly in the running to sign Chelsea sensation Ruben Loftus-Cheek this summer, according to the latest bookmakers’ odds.
Bet Victor have priced the newly-promoted club at 8/1 to land the attacking midfielder, 21, before the transfer window shuts on 3 September.
Newcastle’s fellow Premier League newcomers Brighton are the favourites to sign England Under-21 international Loftus-Cheek at 4/1.
Chris Hughton’s side are ahead of Stoke (5/1), Birmingham, Sunderland and Burnley (all 6/1) in the betting, before Championship giants Newcastle and Aston Villa (10/1).
There is a strong possibility the 20-year-old Stamford Bridge academy product could quit Chelsea in the summer in order to play regular first-team football and aid his development.
The creative midfielder has found himself on the fringes under Antonio Conte this season and has made just 11 appearances for the first team, amounting to only 343 minutes of action.
In the Premier League, Loftus-Cheek has made six appearances but only 30 minutes in total.
Nevertheless, Loftus-Cheek is a 17-times England Under-21 international and regarded as one of the outstanding young players in the country.
He signed a contract last year that runs until the summer of 2021.
Football Insider verdict:
In a manner not entirely unfamiliar for stars emerging from the Chelsea academy, Lotfus-Cheek’s career has stalled this season just when it appeared to be on the verge of lift-off. He is a rising star and potentially a top-class Premier League player but his chances of breaking into the Chelsea team any time soon are remote. With a settled winning team, no European commitments and an early exit from the League Cup, opportunities have been thin on the ground for the Stamford Bridge academy product this season. Will the situation be any different next season? At this crucial time in his career, Loftus Cheek needs regular top-level football week in, week out. Playing regularly for a newly-promoted Premier League side and working under Benitez is exactly what he needs. It would undoubtedly be a huge coup if Newcastle can land Loftus-Cheek this summer.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club have hijacked Everton’s move for a coveted 23-year-old, with a £75,000-a-week contract to be offered.