Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has revealed he is looking forward to working with on-loan midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek once his loan with Fulham comes to an end this summer.
Former boss Frank Lampard sent Loftus-Cheek on the short trip over to Craven Cottage in search of regular minutes this season. The midfielder had missed 13 months with an Achilles injury and was keen to find consistent football to speed up his recovery.
His 22 starts this year show progress on a physical level, although Loftus-Cheek has struggled to make the kind of impact many had expected of him.
Now 25 years old, Loftus-Cheek will find himself at somewhat of a crossroads this season, but Tuchel admitted he has long been a fan of the Englishman and he is eager to give him the chance to prove himself once again.
"It's not decided yet," Tuchel told a press conference when asked about Loftus-Cheek's future. "I was quite a fan of him when he was even younger when he came up from the academy. With his style of play and his movements, he reminded me a bit of Michael Ballack.
"There were transfer links with him all the time, even with a move to Germany, so we were well aware of him and of his talent. I don't know why things did not work out like he and everybody wished, but he's on loan now and he's doing good.
"It would absolutely be unfair if I judged him from TV or what people say about him. Normally, I love to work with players and give my opinion from a direct impression. This is what I don't have."
One player who could feature, however, is Scottish youngster Billy Gilmour. Mateo Kovacic remains sidelined through injury, and with Tuchel keen to balance his squad ahead of the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, Gilmour could get a rare chance to strut his stuff.
"He could play, but it's not decided yet," Tuchel confessed. "N'Golo [Kante] feels very good, Jorginho looked very good.
"We miss Kova a lot and it feels like they both are doing everything they can to step up and do everything to recover as soon as possible. The last decision [on their involvement] will be made in the evening or maybe in the morning, but Billy is in the squad. He was very close to playing some minutes in the last game and he's in good shape."