Rio Ferdinand has waxed lyrical about Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, likening the 25-year-old to Manchester City legend Yaya Toure.
Loftus-Cheek was given his first Champions League start since 2015 on Tuesday night as the Blues beat Malmo 1-0 away from home.
He put in a stellar display next to Jorginho in central midfield as Thomas Tuchel’s men applied some pressure to Group H leaders Juventus.
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Before the match, Manchester United legend Ferdinand heaped praise on the England midfielder, likening him to former Man City midfielder Toure.
The Ivorian spent eight years at the Etihad, making over 300 appearances and winning three Premier League titles plus an FA Cup.
“I love him (Loftus-Cheek),” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “I’ve always known about him from friends at Chelsea.
“He’s a fantastic specimen, first and foremost. I liken him, in full flow, to someone like Yaya Toure.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek's game by numbers vs. Malmo:
30 passes in final third
14 duels won (most)
8 final third entries
7 take-ons completed (most)
7 touches in the opp. box
4 aerial duels won (most)
3 chances created
3 possession won
Dominant in midfield. pic.twitter.com/NcxNT0Ewme
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2021
“He can intimidate players. When he turns and goes full pelt, it’s unplayable at times. As a centre back that’s one of your biggest fears.
“He’s a fantastic talent. He’s as comfortable in the wide areas of a front three as he is in front of the defence. You don’t get that with many players. The strings he has to his bow are beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Tuchel was pleased his side could pick up an “expected” win against Malmo.
He said: “We needed the result, we expected the result, we delivered.
“We wanted to increase the intensity level in the second half. We were able to use this one moment, this position, then be clinical enough to score and then we had enough chances for a second one.
“The control was on our side. We did not suffer through difficult situations in our box, we never lost concentration.”
On Loftus-Cheek, the German said: “I think we can give him credit to find his way in the match. He fought his way through. Maybe this was symbolic for him that he didn’t disappear. He wants to dominate opponents. He is too talented to just be a part of the group. He needs to use his talent.”
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