Much to the disappointment of Chelsea fans worldwide, it finally looks like Frank Lampard is set to the leave Stamford Bridge, a place he has called home for the last decade. Lampard will forever be remembered as a Chelsea great and is considered by some to be the best “goal-scoring midfielder of his generation”, scoring more than 200 goals for the Blues.
Lampard’s success for the Stamford Bridge outfit makes for very large boots to fill, and in Chelsea’s current 4-2-3-1 lineup he fufilled one of the two deep midfield positions, often asked to perform a deep lying playmaker role alongside a more defence minded partner such as Nemanja Matic, John Obi Mikel or the recently departed David Luiz. In recent years Chelsea have been linked with a number of potential replacements for the outgoing club legend in addition to the potential homegrown replacements already on the clubs roster.
Many believe the outstanding candidate to replace Lampard is none other than Chelsea’s very own Josh Mceachran who, after making his debut as a 17-year-old under then manager Carlo Ancelotti showed remarkable promise, and was being touted as the next great English midfielder much like Arsenal counterpart Jack Wilshere.
However recent struggles including a fruitless loan spell at Swansea, followed by a improved spells at Middlesborough and Wigan have severely stunted the Chelsea starlets growth, reducing his chances of playing a prominent role in the Chelsea first team next season.
Recently, there have been suggestions that it is in fact another Chelsea academy graduate Lewis Baker who is line to succeed Lampard in the Chelsea midfield.
Lewis Baker is the captain of the U21 side and despite only being 19-years-of-age, made his full Chelsea debut in the FA Cup win over Derby County in January. Baker is highly regarded at Stamford Bridge having already scored 11 goals in 20 U21 appearances this season. Such form led to him being named as the Chelsea Young Player of the Year showing just how bright the future is for the talented Chelsea starlet.
A more proven option however is perhaps Chelsea’s own Braziilian, Oscar. Already a key cog in the Chelsea side as highlighted by Mourinho referring to him as his No.10, Oscar has proven that he is a top player on the domestic and international scene, much like Frank Lampard.
Roman Abramovich sanctioned the purchase of Oscar in the summer of 2012 for a rumoured £25 million and he went straight into the team under the management of another club legend, Roberto Di Matteo.
However despite his European heroics including a sublime double against Juventus his form regressed and he fell out favour with the then new Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez. Oscar eventually found his way back into Benitez’s team and improved as a player as a part of the reunited “three amigos”.
Chelsea’s failure to beat the smaller teams last season such as West Brom, Sunderland and Norwich, ultimately cost them a fifth league title and highlighted how the Blues struggle without a genuine playmaker behind their trio of advanced midfielders. Chelsea, who were 1-0 down to Cardiff on the last day of the season with just under 30 minutes on the clock, brought on Andre Schurlle for John Obi Mikel.
This switch allowed Oscar to partner Nemanja Matic in one the deeper midfield positions and launch attacking plays from a less advanced position. Within eight minutes of the change Chelsea were level and within 11 they were 2-1 up, highlighting Oscars effectiveness in a deeper position. Oscar in a deeper role created supply for other attacking talents such as Hazard, Schurrle and Salah allowing Chelsea to move into the ascendency.
The swapping of Oscar and Mikel proved to be a significant upgrade in a game such as this, as not only does he provide a lot more going forward but statistics show he averages more tackles per game than the Nigerian as well as other midfielders Frank Lampard and David Luiz.
This highlights how Oscar - alongside a more defensive minded, tough tackling and physically imposing midfielder such as Matic could solve the deep lying midfielder conundrum for the Blues and signal a permanent replacement for Frank Lampard as Chelsea’s chief playmaker.
However this is not the role which made Frank Lampard the Lampard football fans know and love today. In Jose Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea Lampard occupied the most advanced midfield role in a 4-3-3.
Partnered by a shield to the back four, a position filled by Claude Makelele in the “Makelele” role himself, and an all-action midfielder a role filled by Essien and later Michael Ballack when the Ghanaian was moved into the deeper position, Lampard endeared himself in the hearts of Chelsea fans all over the world scoring a providing an invaluable amount of goals for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Oscar’s has the ability to fufill a similar role to the English hero combining his defensive discipline with his undoubted attacking ability. Oscar last year scored 8 goals for the Blues and provided he continues at his current rate of improvement could very well reach the heights of Chelsea icon Frank Lampard.
With this in mind, Chelsea could once again have a midfield that could rival the original Mourinho era, with Nemanja Matic proving he is a more than capable “Makelele” , while Ramires, Marco Van Ginkel and potentially Paul Pogba duke it out for the all action midfielder berth.
In conclusion we can see that despite his role waning over the last couple of years Frank Lampard has been of the utmost importance to the Chelsea team over the last decade, and his departure will no doubt have an effect on the club, however in Oscar Chelsea have a ready made replacement on their books, one with Premier League experience Lewis Baker and Josh Mceachran do not yet posses.
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