One of Football’s most open secrets was finally announced this morning with Chelsea legend Frank Lampard returning to Stamford Bridge to become the manager of the Blues. His return was sealed overnight after his former employers Derby County allowed Lampard the opportunity to discuss a potential return to replace Juventus’ manager Maurizio Sarri. What will Frank Lampard inherit and what are the current issues that the Blues record goal scorer will be getting stuck into?
The largest issue that Lampard has inherited is Chelsea’s current transfer ban which is in place until the end of January 2020 for following a Fifa investigation into transfer of youth players. This means that Lampard will not be able to buy any players at all in his first full season in charge. This though is likely to be one of the main reasons for Lampard being hired by the Chelsea hierarchy as he understands the clubs ethos and culture under owner Roman Abramovich. The transfer ban though does offer Lampard a very interesting challenge in that the large swathe of players who have been out on loan and their youth prospects will all be reporting to the Cobham training ground in preseason knowing that they may well have a chance of playing in the Premier League. Unsurprisingly traders haven’t waited for the news to be confirmed to begin making moves on the Football Index. One of Lampard’s stand out performers at Pride Park last season was England U21 star Mason Mount (£2.19) with whom he had on loan from, Chelsea. Having now gone back to his parent club his price has gradually increased over the last month from a low of £1.84 to rise by £0.35 a share. A fellow youngster on loan who shined in the Championship last season was striker Tammy Abraham (£1.85) who starred in Aston Villa’s promotion campaign. With the club deciding not to action the transfer of Gonzalo Higuain (£0.70) from Juventus, after a loan spell last season which had an option to buy (it had also been agreed before the transfer ban so could still go through if the club wished), he is arguably the first choice striker for Lampard. This has seen his share price increase by £0.27 or 17% to its current mark in the last month. All eyes will be on the first fixture of the Premier League to see if he turns to youth prospects.
The transfer ban at Stamford Bridge will be felt even more keenly following the departure of superstar Eden Hazard (£4.51) to Real Madrid and not having the opportunity to replace the Belgian. It is however felt that Frank Lampard is a huge fan of two English wide forwards who have both cruelly ruptured their achilles in the past few months, Ruben Loftus Cheek (£2.27) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.31). The latter was regularly linked with Bayern Munich last season but with Hazard now plying his trade in La Liga there will be lots more opportunities to shine when back to full fitness. Throw in the Euro 2020 championships next summer and both will want to shine to force their way into Gareth Southgate’s plans.
Chelsea did however opt to activate the option to purchase Mateo Kovacic (£0.66) from Real Madrid following his loan last season and with a midfield of N’Golo Kante (£0.55) , Jorginho (£1.09) and Kovacic look to have one of the strongest in the Premier League. It will be very interesting to see how Lampard performs tactically with ‘Sarri-Ball’ seemingly casting Kante in a more advanced role when pundits will argue he is the best defensive midfielder in world football. In fact his tactics at Derby often had The Rams playing with two holding midfielders with an attacking three behind one striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. With this in mind he may find room for both Jorginho and Kante.
Lampard’s hiring seems to continue the trend of recruiting former stars as managers but how will he cope in the Premier League?