“I thought Ethan’s performance was outstanding. I know the manager at Chelsea sees him as a sitting midfield player. He obviously played at right centre-half at Leipzig and in the middle of a back three as well in his time there, so they saw him in that position.”
Chris Wilder’s post-match comments, Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United, October 24, 2020
Ethan Ampadu has been turning some heads ever since he broke into the starting XI at Sheffield United, where he is on loan from Chelsea till the end of this season. He’s been the standout performer in a side that have found safe haven in the relegation zone. Not only has he clearly earned the faith of his manager, but Ampadu has also been fielded in a row in midfield, where previous managers have opted to field him at center-back, a position in which we haven’t seen the best of him.
Lampard’s squad is crying out for a capable defensive midfielder, and Ampadu has all the makings of one. Wilder clearly rates him in that role, so it’s only good news from a Chelsea perspective. Remarkably, the 20-year-old has made more appearances for his country than he has made league appearances in his career to date. Ampadu has featured for Chelsea 12 times previously, mostly in cup competitions, and impressing while doing so, but competition for places in Lampard’s midfield has forced him to go on loan to find regular game-time. He’s had to work for it, but he is now getting that at Sheffield United under Chris Wilder. He started during his side’s 2-1 defeat at Anfield and was trusted to start again against Man City today. Though he struggled to make a mark against the Manchester outfit, he was impressive at Anfield; fearless, skillful on the ball and played with a sense of pride and compassion.
Ampadu’s midfield partner, Sander Berge is full of praise for the lad. He has lauded Ethan Ampadu’s versatility to be able to slot into any position and dubbed him impressive. What has been particularly noticeable about Ampadu is his vision and reading of the game. He drops deeps into the defence, demands the ball and doesn’t play the safe, easy pass; he is willing to take risks and be creative from the back. His technical ability was highlighted from an early age, with Chris Coleman speaking very highly of him back in 2017. He said, while speaking to The Sun: “He’s very similar to David Luiz. Look at young Ampadu’s style of play; he’s a stylish center-back or holding midfielder.”
Ampadu holds his current manager, Chris Wilder, in high regard, claiming they have a very honest relationship. Moreover, Frank Lampard urged Ethan to go develop himself and get some consistent minutes under his belt this season. With Thiago Silva joining Chelsea from PSG last month, Lampard endorsed Ampadu’s decision to search out regular action when Sheffield United made their approach.
Chelsea are in a dilemma when it comes to their midfield. With N’Golo Kante’s best position and future both in question, it’d really be the fairy-tale story if Ampadu can somehow make the holding midfield position at Chelsea his own next season, despite the fact that Lampard sees him as a ball-playing centre-half. The sky is the limit for the young midfielder and regular game time will only add to his confidence and who knows, maybe he can surprise a few people with his performances over the course of the season.