• Midfielder joined Crystal Palace earlier this month for his first loan stint away from Stamford Bridge.
  • Sam Allardyce believes he should have left five years ago.
  • "Unfortunately his development has been blocked by staying at Chelsea so long," says former Eagles boss.

New Crystal Palace signing Ruben Loftus-Cheek could have emulated Tottenham Hotspur duo Dele Alli and Harry Kane had he left Chelsea much sooner, according to former Eagles manager Sam Allardyce.

Loftus-Cheek became the first arrival of Frank de Boer's embryonic reign at Selhurst Park earlier this month after he moved from west to south east London on a season-long loan deal.

It was the first temporary stint away from Chelsea for the Lewisham-born academy graduate who, unlike so many of his contemporaries, has been given a chance to establish himself in the first-team squad over recent years rather than dispatched for multiple loan spells elsewhere.

Loftus-Cheek has made a total of 32 appearances across three seasons for the Blues and featured six times as a substitute in the Premier League in 2016-17 as Antonio Conte claimed the top-flight title in his very first season in charge.

Many will see that switch to Palace as an opportunity for the versatile England Under-21 international to finally demonstrate his ability on a regular basis.

And while Allardyce clearly believes in Loftus-Cheek's talent, he claims that staying at Chelsea for so long has prevented him from making a similar impact to senior Three Lions duo Alli and Kane - both of whom have thrived under a notably patient manager in Mauricio Pochettino who is not shy in giving regular chances to young players.

"It's nice to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek going to Crystal Palace," he told the Press Association. "I think if he'd done it five years ago he may well have been another Dele Alli or Harry Kane but unfortunately his development has been blocked by staying at Chelsea so long.

"There aren't enough (players) getting into first-team football as quickly as possible. You should be playing first-team football at some level at 17, not 20 or 21. Dele Alli is the perfect example of that, coming through the ranks at MK Dons. We need more players playing football at league level and ultimately going back to their club and trying to prove themselves."

Loftus-Cheek made his debut for Palace during the Premier League Asia Trophy last week, appearing as a late substitute in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool and starting the subsequent clash with Leicester City as De Boer's side claimed third place in Hong Kong.

Speaking after completing his first signing in English football, De Boer, who intimated that he could use the 21-year-old as either an attacking or holding midfielder, said: "He is a very talented player and is a good height, and even though he's quite tall he has very good technique. He's a technical and physical player, so after I looked at our squad I thought he could be a very helpful player for the team and gives us a quality injection."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek will spend the entire 2017-18 campaign on loan at Crystal Palace