Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek has what it takes to become “one of the best midfielders in Europe”.
An Olivier Giroud hat-trick and goals from Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi secured a resounding 5-0 win against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday as Chelsea booked their place in the Europa League quarter-finals with an 8-0 aggregate victory.
Despite not getting on the scoresheet, Sarri was impressed with Loftus-Cheek’s contribution and thinks he has all the attributes to be one of the very best on the continent.
“He did very well, he is improving in the last month,” he told BT Sport.
“He has been able to train after the problem with the back. He had a wonderful match and I’m really happy he could play for 90 minutes.
“His potential as a player is very, very, high. Physically, technically and tactically he is improving. He can become one of the best midfielders not only in England but in Europe.
It’s all over! 5-0 tonight, 8-0 on aggregate and the Blues are heading into the quarter-finals!
Giroud’s perfect hat-trick means he is the Europa League’s top scorer this season with nine goals and Sarri was delighted with his display.
“Recently, every time he has been on the pitch, he has played really very well,” he later told a media conference.
“He’s scored nine goals in this competition. As you know very well, Olivier is a very important player. I’m really very happy for him.”
Sarri’s former club Napoli also progressed to the last eight on Thursday after a 4-3 aggregate win over Salzburg, but the Italian says he would only like to meet the Partenopei for the final in Baku on May 29.
“I prefer to face them in the final,” he added.
“First of all, because it means we are in the final and I am happy with that. And second, it means that Napoli are in the final, and I am happy.
“You know very well my relationship with the city, with the people. So, for me, it will be very difficult to play against them in Naples.”