Frank Lampard has been a truly outstanding player for Chelsea Football Club. In fact, the free-scoring midfielder might well be the best player in the club’s 109-year history. But it’s in the best interests of the Blues to replace the England international with Tottenham’s Paulinho this summer.
The South American, who was named in Brazil’s 23-man World Cup squad earlier this week, has not exactly set the Premier League alight since completing his £17m to White Hart Lane last summer. Five goals in 29 league appearances is a disappointing return for the man billed as, ironically, the ‘next Lampard’ on arrival from Corinthians.
But it’s been a difficult debut season for all of Tottenham’s summer signings for several reasons. A change in management midway through the season hasn’t helped matters, while it’s hard not to get the feeling that Tim Sherwood hasn’t put enough faith in some of the overseas players in his squad.
Sherwood will be replaced over the coming weeks, but Paulinho reportedly has his heart set on a move across London to Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is poised to add him to his new-look squad for the 2014/15 season.
Paulinho already has an excellent relationship with the Brazilian contingent in the Chelsea team - players such as David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires - so the settling-in process shouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult as it has proved at Spurs.
Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari said this week that he has no concerns over Paulinho’s poor club form ahead of the World Cup finals - and this is because the ex-Chelsea boss knows the 25-year-old’s capabilities and, crucially, how to get the best out of him.
Sherwood is clueless in this respect. Paulinho’s failure to flourish at Spurs is more his fault than the player’s. Paulinho needs to be played through the middle of midfield and allowed to make those late, darting runs into the penalty area. He is not, and never has been, a holding midfielder.
This is why he’d be perfect for Chelsea. Mourinho needs a new Lampard - with the real one coming to the end of his career - and there isn’t a player in world football closer, in terms of style, to the Blues’ legend than Paulinho.
At Chelsea he will have the platform, teammates and manager to allow him to prove it.
Don’t expect the €35m-rated star to arrive at Stamford Bridge and net double figures in his first season at Chelsea - although he’s more than capable of doing so. It took Lampard three seasons before he netted 10 Premier League goals in a single campaign.
Paulinho and Nemanja Matic would be an formidable central midfield pairing, while Lampard - who has surely cemented his status as Chelsea’s best ever player - can leave Stamford Bridge safe in the knowledge that the Blues have found his perfect successor.