The next Ballack? Loftus-Cheek aiming to become Chelsea's next midfield dynamo

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The highly rated midfielder has been included in the senior England squad for the first time and is eager to follow in the footsteps of a legend

Ruben Loftus-Cheek admits to having modelled his game on Michael Ballack as he seeks to enjoy similar success with Chelsea.

The 21-year-old midfielder is currently taking in a season-long loan with Crystal Palace, with Antonio Conte unable to offer him the regular minutes he needs at this stage of his career.

Palace 4/6 to be relegated

Loftus-Cheek has impressed with the Eagles, earning a first call-up to the senior England squad for friendly dates with Germany and Brazil.

The youngster is eager to ensure that his career remains on an upward curve, with inspiration having been taken from an iconic figure of the modern era.

Loftus-Cheek told Standard Sport: "Ballack is a player that inspired me when I was growing up at Chelsea.

"I used to watch him playing with the likes of [Frank] Lampard and [Michael] Essien in midfield. I was coming through the Academy and my coaches always used to say to me: 'Watch the games, watch Ballack.' 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek Michael Ballack Chelsea

"At the time they brought in a type of analysis which was quite new. It tracked players individually. 

"You could go on a laptop, click on a name and watch all their plays from the game. I used to click on Ballack's name a lot.

"He was a guy that would boss the midfield. It is what my dad used to say to me as well, that I need to boss the midfield too. Ballack was a player that ran the game, while Lampard kind of worked off him. 

"I took his style into the way I play, especially when I played as a No.8 all the way through the academy and sometimes play now."

Ballack, who won 98 caps for Germany, spent four years with Chelsea between 2006 and 2010.

He won the Premier League title, three FA Cups, the League Cup and the Community Shield during his time at Stamford Bridge, while also gracing the 2008 Champions League final.

It is a big ask for Loftus-Cheek to reach that level, but the youngster is showing signs of promise and already boasts the physical attributes to put him in the Ballack mould.

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He added: "I have always been quite tall since the age of 13-14, but I wasn't powerful with big muscles.

"I have had to develop that Ballack frame and power over a period of time. My physicality is a big part of my game. It was a strength that he used and it is something you can compare us with."

Loftus-Cheek has made eight appearances for Palace this season, having previously been restricted to just 32 outings for Chelsea after making his senior debut in December 2014.

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