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Ruben Loftus-Cheek wants Chelsea stay amid Schalke links - sources

Ruben Loftus-Cheek wants to stay at Chelsea and fight for a first-team place this season despite reported interest from Schalke, sources have told ESPN FC.

Reports in England said Schalke are prepared to offer Loftus-Cheek regular football, after Thursday's closure of the Premier League transfer window eliminated the possibility of a loan to another club in England.

Chelsea have been adamant all summer that Loftus-Cheek is not for sale at any price, though there is an acceptance that he may have to leave the club on loan again in order to get the first-team opportunities he needs to develop.

Loftus-Cheek is desperate to maintain momentum after featuring in four of England's seven matches at the World Cup this summer, and returned to Cobham early from his post-tournament break in a bid to impress new head coach Maurizio Sarri.

He also chose to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the Premier League deadline because he believes he force his way into the third midfield starting spot in Sarri's 4-3-3 system alongside summer signing Jorginho and N'Golo Kante.

That position was occupied by Ross Barkley as Chelsea began the new Premier League season with a 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday, while Loftus-Cheek came off the bench to replace him on 68 minutes.

Mateo Kovacic, the Croatia international midfielder Chelsea signed on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid last week, did not feature but Sarri is understood to consider the 24-year-old a key part of his plans for the campaign.

Loftus-Cheek is likely to have to compete with both Barkley and Kovacic for a starting spot. Tiemoue Bakayoko is no longer a rival, though, having completed a season-long loan move to AC Milan on Tuesday with an option to make the move permanent next summer.

Chelsea face Arsenal and Newcastle before the end of August and Loftus-Cheek's attitude towards a European loan could change if his opportunities remain limited, but sources have told ESPN FC that he is fully focused on earning Sarri's trust and a place in his starting XI this season.

Loftus-Cheek made his first appearance under Sarri in Chelsea's preseason friendly against Lyon earlier this month.

"He's potentially a great player. He has to improve from the tactical point of view," Sarri said after the match. "But I think that's not a problem. He's very young. I think he can be a very useful player for us."

Chelsea and Schalke declined to comment when contacted by ESPN FC.

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