RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK could be loaned out on the ‘cheap’ — with Chelsea keen to get him some game time.
Midfielder Loftus-Cheek, 24, might follow Ross Barkley out of Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard shakes up his squad and looks to keep them sharp.
Loftus-Cheek is on a stunning £9million-a-year contract but Chelsea are prepared to pay £100,000 a week out of his £173,000 pay packet to get him a new temporary home.
Southampton have been looking into the package while others are considering it before the close of business on Monday.
Saints are weighing up whether he is better value than Nice midfielder Wylan Cyprien, although his club want a guaranteed buy at the end of a year,
Aston Villa looked into a move but chose Barkley, who is on MORE.
There are also suggestions Chelsea would be prepared to offer West Ham Loftus-Cheek AND Germany centre-back Antonio Rudiger in exchange for versatile England star Declan Rice.
Lampard is thought to fancy Rice for the holding role in midfield.
And the Stamford Bridge legend said of Loftus-Cheek last week: “I’m very open with Ruben.
“We’ve had a couple of conversations in the past week.
“Ruben’s fit as a fiddle, he can play week in week out if he needs to, coming off the back of a lot of work.
“He would have been playing games and fitter earlier, if it wasn’t for lockdown.
“There’s a possibility that Ruben may go out to play games, because I think that would be great for him.
“We hold him in very high regard here, I certainly do, and that could be a good option for him.
“If that’s not the right option, he’ll be competitive in this squad as well, because of the quality that he has, and, hopefully, be a big plus for us.”