Frank Lampard earned legendary status at Stamford Bridge during his 648 appearances in Chelsea colours between 2001 and 2014. Five years after his playing days for the Blues concluded, he switched the kit and boots for a tie and suit as he was appointed manager of the club.
Although all Chelsea fans will be wishing for his reign in the Chelsea dugout to last longer than that of his predecessors, we’ll take a look at which Chelsea players would be best suited to follow in the footsteps of their current gaffer.
If we’re looking at players to lead Chelsea, there’s only one place to start, the captain César Azpilicueta.
In spite of recent criticism the skipper has faced from the Chelsea faithful, arguably Chelsea’s greatest ever manager, Jose Mourinho, once claimed “Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas would probably win the competition [Champions League] because football is not just about pure talent” thus suggesting his worth goes way beyond what we see just on the pitch.
In terms of on the pitch achievements, he shares with Lampard a record of playing every single minute in a title winning campaign. Although this reveals little about how he would fare in the dugout, the repeated faith that managers, have shown in him speaks volumes about his mentality especially when considering he is far from the most naturally gifted player.
When Chelsea players have been questioned about which one of their teammates is most likely to go into management, the common answer is Azpilicueta. During interviews on ‘Soccer AM’ last season. Youngsters Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi both named ‘Azpi’ to be the most likely in the squad to go into management with the former going on to describe the Spaniard as “the most professional player I’ve seen”. Eden Hazard also gave the same response to the same question when he was asked as well as suggesting that Gary Cahill would also have the skills required for management.
From one Spaniard to another, we take a look at Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Sneers regarding the shot stopper being a manager arose in February after his antics in extra-time of the 2019 Carabao Cup final saw him assert his own authority over Maurizio Sarri.
Putting jokes aside, Chelsea’s record signing has been labelled as ‘captain material’ numerous times amongst Chelsea faithful on Twitter.
The Spanish international recently leapfrogged David De Gea in the pecking order to claim the starting position in between the sticks for the Spanish national team. The Spaniards know all too well the importance of having a goalkeeper with leadership qualities, as the only man to ever captain the Spaniards to World Cup success was goalkeeper, Iker Casillas.
At just 24 Kepa is at a somewhat youthful age for a man of his position and has already shown leadership qualities in his career which undoubtedly has many years left on the clock in which he can develop as a player and a leader.
Onto the man who has the job that Lampard himself carried out so well during his playing days at the Bridge, the penalty taker, Jorginho.
Lampard recently described the Italian as a player he is ‘fortunate’ to have, as well as claiming the midfielder has an ‘infectious spirit’. Jorginho has experienced something of a renaissance during his time at Chelsea. Previously a scapegoat for certain poor results during his first season at the club, the 27 year old has now emerged as a fans favourite with his name regularly sung by Chelsea supporters.
Having been singled out for supposedly poor performances during his first season at Chelsea, and because of his penalty taking duties, Jorginho is no stranger to having responsibility and pressured heaped upon his shoulders. His ability to cope with this would undoubtedly set him up well to cope with the complications of management.
Despite the departure of Maurizio Sarri, the manager who brought him to Stamford Bridge, Jorginho remains adamant of his loyalties towards the Blues, claiming that he is “very happy in London” going on to say that “I have a long contract and I hope to be here for a long time.” The long term commitment to the club promised by Jorginho is similar to that of Lampard who not only insisted his happiness playing at Chelsea despite interest from Inter Milan and Barcelona for him, he regularly spoke about returning to Stamford Bridge after his retirement as a player.
Tammy Abraham & Mason Mount
Alternatively if we were to perceive Lampard purely for his accolades on the pitch – as opposed to viewing him simply for his current role – then attention would have to be averted to a different type of player, a goal scorer. Although the odds are stacked against any of the players amongst the Chelsea ranks going on to become the record goal scorer for the club, some of the younger players who are emerging as regular starters at least have an outside chance of following in the footsteps of their gaffer to break goalscoring records for Chelsea.
Tammy Abraham has scored four goals from as many league games this season. Although the possibility of the 21 year old going on to break the record that Lampard set of scoring 211 goals for Chelsea is improbable, the academy product may well be able to replicate the consistency that his manager showed in front of goal and be able to find the net on 20+ occasions for five consecutive seasons.
Similarly Lampard’s golden boy Mason Mount ticks many boxes to potentially replicate some of his manager’s midfield excellence in the Premier League, where Frank netted a total of 41 times from outside of the penalty area, more than any other player In the history of the league. Whilst the 20 year old is yet to showcase his long range shooting ability in the Premier League, he is already starting to show signs of scoring other goals which could be described as ‘trademark Lampard’. Mount’s teammate for club and country, Ross Barkley drew the comparison of how Mount is “similar to a young Frank Lampard…the way he arrives in the box and gets his shots away early is pretty similar to Lamps”.
Whilst Mason Mount is probably the most likely candidate to reproduce Lampard’s midfield masterclasses at Stamford Bridge, the player who shows the greatest promise to follow in the footsteps of Frank and to one day manage Chelsea would be Cesar Azpilicueta . Although the playing career of the defender is to inevitably outshone by that of his manager, Azpilicueta is the only player since Lampard in 2013 to captain Chelsea to European glory, which is one of many reasons he shows the credentials to one day lead Chelsea from the touch line.