How will Frank Lampard be keeping the squad motivated during the season’s suspension?
Different managers across the Premier League are using different methods to keep in touch with their players, passing on information for them to keep fit. Obviously, they’ve all got individual programmes to keep them ticking over, but it’s very difficult to keep the regular standards of Premier League fitness at this time.
I don’t think the managers will have to keep the players motivated though, the players are professional enough to deal with that side of it. It is more about contact, making sure that the players have all the information they need. Players won’t want to go back to training and be behind the others fitness-wise if you haven’t done your programmes at home. When the Premier League does return, clubs will likely only have a week to 10 days of full training before matches start again.
From a Chelsea perspective, their motivation will still be to finish in the Top Four, so it will be important for them to hit the ground running.
Where should Chelsea be looking to improve their squad in the next transfer window?
There are two obvious positions in which Chelsea need to improve their squad – left back and a striker. Both left backs this season, Emerson and Alonso, haven’t really grasped that position and played a lot of games consistently. Emerson has come over to England, he’s a talented attacking left back but he can struggle in the defensive third, and he hasn’t been the mainstay in that position as was expected at the football club.
When you look at Alonso, he’s better as a wing back than an actual full back in a back four. So, the left back position is somewhere that needs to be looked at. There have been rumours about Chelsea signing Ben Chilwell – if you had asked me six months ago, I would have said that he was the ideal left back for Chelsea but his form has dipped towards to the back end of the season, which has made me question him. You have to remember, it is a massive difference being a player at Leicester City and Chelsea. At Chelsea, you have the expectation of winning games every week, winning titles and European Cup Competitions.
Lampard will also need to address the centre forward situation at the club. Tammy Abraham has been excellent, but he has really had to carry the baton on his own all season. Only now, has Giroud come to fruition and led the line quite well but if Chelsea want to get into a situation where they are challenging Liverpool and Man City, then they need to add a world class centre forward.
The club have been rumoured with centre forwards across the world; the likes of Luka Jovic and Timo Werner, but for me, I’d like to see Chelsea bring in a proven Premier League striker – which is the hardest thing to do. It needs to be an experienced player, someone who is going to be Number One when Tammy Abraham develops, because as a young striker around the country, there isn’t really any that are better than Tammy Abraham.
Can Reece James challenge Trent Alexander-Arnold for a starting position at Right-Back for England?
Lampard and Jody Morris are both massive fans of Reece James. I’ve been aware of Reece-James for a number of years after speaking with Jody about the talent coming through the system at Chelsea – he obviously then went to Wigan where he emerged as a quality player playing in a number of different positions. The one thing about Reece-James is that he can play all across the back four but he can play in the midfield as well.
It’s going to be ta big ask for Reece-James to rival Trent Alexander-Arnold given the way that he is performing for Liverpool but I do see faults in Trent’s game. Defensively, Reece-James is a better defender than Alexander-Arnold at the moment. But, it is hard to find a full back that produces as many assists in Europe than Trent does for Liverpool.
Alexander-Arnold will likely command the right back position for England for the next five or six years but Reece-James will certainly push him, especially once he has gained more experience in the Premier League. As an all-round full back, I think there is more to his game than Trent as he is good going forward but he is also very strong defensively as well.
Do you expect Tammy Abraham to reach the levels of Chelsea greats, like Drogba and Hasselbaink?
I don’t think it is fair to compare Tammy Abraham to the likes of Drogba and Hasselbaink. Tammy Abraham needs to focus on himself, improving himself as an all-round striker, and be the best Tammy Abraham he can be, he shouldn’t worry about reaching the heights of Premier League stars, not just Chelsea stars, like Drogba and Hasselbaink. We’ve seen just how hard it is to develop from the academy and become the main striker at a Premier League club, let alone a club like Chelsea. It is very difficult to do.
He’s going to have a great career at Chelsea and if he can score anywhere near the amount of goals that both Drogba, Hasselbaink or Lampard scored at Chelsea, then he’ll be right up there. He’s shown that he is capable of scoring goals in the Premier League, the next stage is doing that season in, season out.
How much can Chelsea expect from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek next season? Are they Chelsea’s brightest talents?
Chelsea’s academy has been strong over the last 10 years but it has been very difficult for previous managers to use them in the first team, as they’ve relied on the proven players and not looked to the academy to give these young players a chance. With the transfer embargo, Lampard has had the opportunity to throw in the academy players. When you look at what both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were doing at the club before they got injured last season, they certainly have bright futures at the club.
Loftus-Cheek has to nail down a position in the team that suits for him as he’s played in a number of positions – I like him as a holding midfielder. He is powerful, strong and travels well with the ball. So, for him to develop, he needs to identify one specific position that he can play in and then challenge whoever is playing in that position in the team. That will help him get more games.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is an excellent player that is only going to get better. When you look at Chelsea’s squad, there aren’t many ball-carrying players that can beat their man in one vs one situations. When you look throughout the Premier League, there aren’t many like him – players like him are like gold dust. They’ve both got great futures at the club, along with many others coming through the ranks.
Can Mason Mount go on to be as good as Frank Lampard?
I understand the comparisons between Mason Mount and Frank Lampard – they’re both attacking midfielders that score goals. Similar to Frank, Mason Mount has that ability to arrive in the box at the right time to score goals which he has shown this season. Whether he can do that at the rate that Frank Lampard did that for Chelsea remains to be seen. It is a big ask but he has the talent. There is going to be a lot of competition in that area of the pitch, especially with Chelsea able to go back into the transfer market in the summer but I certainly see him as a player who will get better and better.
The fans have been divided by Mason Mount this season about the way he is received at the football club, which I don’t quite understand. Chelsea have always been known as a club that encourages young talent, even from the early 70’s when Ray Wilkins was the young Chelsea player coming through the academy and going on to captain the club – there has always been support for the youngsters and I don’t understand why Mason Mount doesn’t always receive that from Chelsea supporters. But, he is showing the strength of mind to get through it, focus on his game and still produce performances week in, week out. So, Mason Mount will go on to have a bright future at the club, whether he can score as many goals as Frank Lampard, I don’t know, but if he is anywhere near Frank Lampard, then he is going to be a Chelsea great.
How impressed have you been with Billy Gilmour? Does he have what it takes to make it at Chelsea or is it too soon to predict?
Billy Gilmour has got what it takes to make it at Chelsea and he’s got an incredible future at the club – I’d put him up there as being a real Chelsea great if he gets the opportunity to play regular football for Chelsea.
Before he even arrived in the first team this season, I was well aware of how highly he was rated after listening what was coming out from the academy coaches on their analysis of the player – everyone is fully aware as to how good he has been since he joined the football club. I’ve been very surprised with how comfortably he adapted to playing in the Premier League. It can be very hectic playing in those midfield areas at that level but he seems to naturally acclimatise to playing at that level. That’s a sign of a good player, when they look so comfortable playing for Chelsea.
Gilmour looks like he’s got everything in his game. His awareness, his passing, his ability to break down attacks and start Chelsea attacks is incredible. Sometimes, you question the size of him but I’m told by Jody Morris that he is really tenacious and he can look after himself, so there is nothing to worry about there. So, I think he’s got a really good future at the football club.
Should Chelsea stick with Kepa Arrizabalaga?
I don’t know the relationship between Kepa and Lampard behind the scenes but it is clear that there is some level of unsettlement, if such a high-profile and expensive goalkeeper is being left out of the side. You need to take into consideration that he is very young and if Chelsea do look to cash in on him and sign another keeper, they won’t get back the money they forked out initially.
I do think that he is a good enough keeper and you can see that when he came back into the team, he started to show the form that he came to the club with initially. So, perhaps he just needed the ‘kick up the bum’ to push on again because he is certainly a talented goalkeeper, who has everything in his game. There is no particular part of his game that I think he struggles with in particular – he’s good with his feet, his positional sense and commanding his area is strong and he’s a great shot stopper. It’s just about his relationship with Frank and how he can continue to adapt after coming over from Spain.
There are rumours that Chelsea are looking to sign Burnley goalkeeper, Nick Pope. Would he start ahead of Kepa?
Nick Pope is an excellent, young English goalkeeper – he’s a really professional goalkeeper that is only going to get better. However, I don’t think that Burnley will want to sell him anyway. They won’t want to be known as a club where anyone can just come in and take their international players. It will be a tricky situation for Chelsea to sign Nick Pope from Burnley anyway.
Personally, I’d like Kepa to be given another season to prove himself and settle in the Premier League. When you look at other foreign keepers, sometimes it takes them up to 18 months to settle in the Premier League before you start to get the best out of them – you only have to look at David De Gea at Man United. If Kepa does settle, I don’t think there are going to be many better goalkeepers than him in the Premier League anyway.
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has called Olivier Giroud a...go kart... and naming himself as a...Formula One car, do you think Benzema’s comparison is justified?
When you are a professional footballer, you need to show that respect for your fellow professionals, so I didn’t like Benzema’s comments about Olivier Giroud. Whether it was taken out of context or not, I don’t know. But to say that about a World Cup winner and someone who was the main striker during that campaign, who played his part even though he might not have scored the gaols – he still played his part in those games. Yes, he has never been the main striker in England during his time at Arsenal and Chelsea but when you look at what he has done in the game, you need to give him more respect than that.
Benzema is a quality player in his own right but he isn’t a player that you think would automatically set the Premier League alight if he was to join – it’s a totally different ballgame to playing Spanish, Italian or German football. So, I think his comments were very disrespectful to a World Cup winner.
Jude Bellingham has been linked with a move to Chelsea. Would this be a wise move for the youngster?
Jude Bellingham has to think about playing games, getting better and improving as a player – which I think will be very difficult for him to do at Chelsea. You look at the youngsters coming through the ranks at Chelsea and you’d say that there are better players coming through the academy than Jude Bellingham anyway. So, if he is going to move on from Birmingham City and kick on at a higher level, it is really important that he goes to a club where he can play week in, week out as that’s the only way he’ll improve and fulfil the potential that he’s got. I think Bellingham needs to very wary of his next move.
Dortmund have said they’re happy for Jadon Sancho to leave. How much would he improve this Chelsea squad?
Jadon Sancho is a fantastic player and a great talent but he plays in similar positions to the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian, so there will be tough competition for places if he does join in the summer. Whether he is a Chelsea target, I don’t know, as Chelsea have more than enough players in those positions that can play in those wide areas or in the Number 10 role – they have plenty of options. So, I don’t think that it is a position that Chelsea are panicking over but if a player of Jadon’s ability becomes available then you have to look at it. There are rumours that he is Chelsea fan as well, which will help. But for me, it’s not a position that Chelsea are desperate for.
If Chelsea do sign Jadon Sancho, does he get into their Starting 11 automatically?
Is Jadon Sancho any better than Callum Hudson-Odoi on that left-hand side? When you look at the potential of both players, would you spend close to £150 million, which I’d expect would cost, to bring Jadon Sancho to this country or would you just stick to Callum Hudson-Odoi? Personally, I don’t think Jadon Sancho automatically gets into Chelsea’s team.
Chelsea have been linked with Porto’s Alex Telles. Would he be a good signing for the club at left back?
Alex Telles is a good player, I like what I’ve seen of him but whether he has the ability to adapt to the Premier League is a different question. There is no other league like the Premier League, purely due to the competition in every game, week in, week out – there is no easy games.
That’s why I’d prefer to see Chelsea sign proven players that have played in the Premier League before. You look at Emerson for example, terrific player before coming to the Premier League but he hasn’t been able to lock down a position for Chelsea. It just shows how difficult it is to adapt and to acclimatise to the Premier League.
You’d expect Telles to be able to handle the Premier League and do well but it’s certainly not something that I take for granted, that a player who is playing well abroad can just come in to the Premier League, hit the ground running and continue.
Luka Jovic has struggled at Real Madrid since he arrived, would he be a good addition to the Chelsea team?
Luka Jovic is a very good player but when you look at centre-forwards, he’s pretty similar to Tammy Abraham in the way that he leads the line. Taking into consideration that he’s struggled to get into the Real Madrid team, if he can’t get into the Real Madrid team, will he be able to get into the Chelsea team and do well?
I’d be quite reserved when it comes to Chelsea signing Luka Jovic. Just because you’re leaving a club of the size of Real Madrid, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to come to a club like Chelsea, settle in and score goals in the Premier League because it is a different ask for players that have come from abroad.
Chelsea need a striker to support Tammy Abraham. Is he someone that will come in and replace Tammy Abraham straight-away and is he someone that Tammy can learn from?
Timo Werner is an excellent player, who has obviously played well in Europe this season. There are talks about him going to Liverpool as well, which just shows how much he is sought after at the moment. If you look at his all-round game, you’d probably say that he has more to his game than Tammy Abraham at the moment.
I do think that it is important for Chelsea to sign a striker this summer, and I think Chelsea will do their due diligence as to which player fits the whole scenario best. Chelsea will need to tap into the psyche of the player, determine what kind of character he is, which is just as important as to what he does on the pitch.
Currently the top goal scorer in Europe, Ciro Immobileis enjoying yet another high scoring season. Should he be a priority signing for Chelsea this summer?
Lazio is a big club with a massive reputation, so the fact that Immobileis is scoring a lot of goals for them is something that I like. If you are going to sign a striker from abroad, if they are coming in with the confidence of scoring a lot of goals in another league the previous season, that helps. However, the Italian league is totally different – you get more opportunities in the Italian league to score goals and when you’re at a club like Lazio, you’re going to get your fair share of opportunities.
I won’t take anything away from his record this season. He’s been excellent and he does look like a natural finisher but to play in the Premier League, you need more than that, especially given the way that Chelsea play. You have to take into consideration the build-up play of the player and how mobile they are. He’ll certainly be on the long list of strikers that Lampard will be looking at, whether he is at the top of that list, I don’t know but his goals should help push him up that list.
Do you think that Leicester can keep hold of their best talent in the summer, or do you see the likes of James Maddison and Ben Chilwell leaving the club?
Leicester has served themselves a stronger case to keep their top players due to the season they’ve had so far. Leicester has been right up there in the Top Four and Brendan Rodgers has taken them to a new level since he’s been there. This all helps with bargaining powers to keep players at the club, with the ambition that Brendan Rodgers has for the team.
But Leicester has previously sold off valuable individuals such as Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater and Kante but still being able to hold onto valuable players like Jamie Vardy. So, it depends on whether the player wants to stay at Leicester or go to a Manchester United, or similar, then it’s very difficult to keep them at the football club. It does depend on the individual. James Maddison will be a tough player for Leicester to keep with the likes of Manchester United coming in for him. Ben Chilwell has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester City. Both players will be hard to keep but Brendan Rodgers is a terrific manager and man manager so I think that he will be working hard to ensure their futures remain at Leicester as they are heading in the right direction.
If Leicester keep hold of their core squad, could they challenge for the Premier League title next season?
I think there’s a massive gap for all of the club’s underneath Liverpool at the moment, whether Leicester can plug that gap, I’m not too sure as the likes of City, Chelsea and Manchester United will be improved coming into next season. It will be hard to win games for Leicester, but I think if they challenged for the Premier League next season, it would be remarkable. They’ve already challenged for the second spot this season after Liverpool have run away with the title. I think that they will be a top six season for the foreseeable, but pushing for the top spot will be a little bit difficult.
What do you think the best option is and what do you think the Premier League will decide in terms of finishing the remainder of the Premier League and EFL seasons?
I think the remainder of the Premier League season will be governed by how long the pandemic goes on for. There’s been talks of the season re-starting at the end of the month, but I find it difficult to believe we’ll be getting any football in April. For me, it is important that the Premier League and the EFL should finish the leagues – with European football being postponed it gives a little more time to finish the season. But next season will have to start later, because the players will need a break.
I would have liked to have seen all of the leagues finish – I’ve been heavily involved in non-league over the years and it’s disappointing that they don’t get the opportunity to finish the league and it will affect them financially, especially in non-league, where it will hurt them the most.
So, I’d like to see all the leagues finished. Push back the beginning of next season and then go with two games a week for the start of next season, in order to catch up with the regular schedule.
Do you think the rumoured ‘World Cup format’ of all of the teams within the same camp, will work?
I’m not too sure that this would work. If one person carries the virus, it will slaughter the whole camp. For me, the obvious way to deal with it is to leave the clubs to contain their own players and staff and be responsible for that. Then, hopefully this virus will be gone, and then football will be made a lot simpler.
I can see the point of this idea, but it seems far riskier than leaving the clubs to deal with their own players.
Is it a formality that Liverpool will win the Premier League if it re-starts?
For me, there’s no signs that Liverpool can’t win another four games to win the title, if the league resumes. Liverpool are pretty much certainties to win the Premier League and it would be fully deserved after the season they’ve had.
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