Oscar and De Bruyne are currently excelling as trequartistas for both club and country. Their accurate passing, flair, creativity and eye for goal has led to some really exceptional goals and assists; Oscar’s goals against Shakhtar and Juventus spring to mind. Either have the capacity to replace Lampard, but I foresee slightly different roles for them. If they were to really work hard in the gym on their strength, stamina and physique, we could have two world-class players on our hands. If you were to lock Oscar in a gym for a week or two, I think something like a Michael Essien of old with more skill and flair and better passing might walk out. And if De Bruyne was locked in the gym with Oscar, we might get a creature along the lines of a much more creative Gareth Bale. Which would be terrifying.
Why Lampard hasn’t been given a new contract (Part 1): http://chelseafc360.com/2013/03/01/why-frank-lampard-hasnt-been-given-a-new-contract-part-1/
Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah have both had superb seasons on loan in the Championship. Chalobah has probably been the more impressive of the two, having been a crucial member of a Watford side that, after a slow start, have launched a brilliant surge up the table that sees them currently occupy an automatic promotion position. With 4 goals in 27 games from a holding midfield role, Chalobah has proven himself to be one of Chelsea’s brightest prospects and to cap it all off, he was recently named England Young Player of the Year for 2012. Be it in midfield or central defence, he appears to have a huge part to play in Chelsea’s future.
McEachran has also done a very good job for Middlesbrough in his spell there. Despite not having scored a goal in his 30 league games, McEachran has been one of Boro’s stand-out performers this season. He’s also been played out of position all too frequently, often playing on the right flank of Tony Mowbray’s 4-4-2 when it is blindingly obvious that his physical attributes, or lack of, make him much more effective when displaying his excellent technical quality as a creative central midfielder, probably the closest thing to a Frank Lampard that we have. But if the plan is to replace Lampard with either Chalobah or McEachran, they must add one crucial ingredient to their game: goals.
Where to start with the enigmatic Brazilian and all-round geezer, David Luiz? One of the most talented players on Chelsea’s books, but prone to brain-farts and fatal lapses in concentration. He has the requisite ability to be as good as Franz Beckenbauer with his beautiful long passes, lethal set pieces, perfectly timed tackles and interceptions, buccaneering dribbles and brilliant hair. His through balls from defence can dissect an entire team! Moving him into midfield has yielded mixed results; it was a transition that I had been crying out for but didn’t surface until the game against Nordsjaelland on December 5th, but it hasn’t been the answer to all our problems. His speed, strength, stamina and range of passing have delivered some excellent performances but his tendencies to dribble forward have led to very little space between the lines and no room for our lavishly gifted attacking midfielders to operate in. Nevertheless Luiz is a realistic replacement for Frank Lampard, especially if he can learn to pick the timing of his runs better and add some more goals to his game.
At the moment, Luiz would be my first choice to replace Frank Lampard. He’s got all the attributes, but can he hone his talents and cut out the brain-farts? If not, Josh McEachran would be a good fit, but he needs to add goals to his game.
#5: The club has an external replacement lined up:
This is where the speculation starts. Can anyone out there come to Chelsea and replace Super Frank? The popular choice at the moment seems to be Marouane Fellaini. However, his disciplinary record and limited passing range count against him, and when deployed as a central midfielder he doesn’t get anywhere close to Frank’s goal-scoring tallies. He is, however, in very good form currently, and his sheer size, strength, physicality and Belgianness make him an attractive proposition. Oh, and the prospect of a Luiz-Fellaini double pivot. ALL THE HAIR! He’s clearly the popular choice…
Clearly it’s Fellaini over Modric for most of you out there, but not for me. Personally, I don’t think Fellaini would be much of an upgrade over Mikel because there’s not much pace, no real range of passing and a horrific record of yellow cards. Fellaini will score a few goals, and Mikel won’t, but that’s it, at least in terms of the pivot. Fellaini might be better in attack than central midfield, but once again the pivot is our problem, not the attack. And Modric could sort this out. The transition from defence to attack is too slow, we can’t dictate games and the pivot are pushing too high up the pitch. Modric would be perfect for this. He specialises in starting attacks with incisive passing, can slow down the pace of the game when defending a lead and is quite restrained as a holding midfielder. His speciality is not scoring or providing the assist, but the secondary assist. At Spurs, it would be Modric playing a defence-splitting ball to Lennon or Bale on the wings, who would cross the ball for the onrushing Adebayor to score. Modric won’t replace Lampard’s goals, but then again who can?
Enter Miralem Pjanic. Seven goals and 14 assists from central midfield this season for AS Roma in all competitions. Not staggering, but that gives him a direct involvement in a goal every 86 minutes, which is brilliant. Roma aren’t a particularly strong team, languishing 8th in Serie A. It must also be noted that he is only 22, the same age as Lampard was when he arrived, and Frankie only scored 7 goals in his first season here. Pjanic has got all the flair, skill and creativity you could ever want, and could easily play in the band of 3. With Roma looking increasingly unlikely to miss out on Europe altogether, he’d most likely be available for £10-15m, which is a steal. Look no further than Miralem Pjanic.
#6 The club is waiting for a permanent manager before deciding :
With the unfortunate current situation (the existence of Mr. Interim on planet Earth) it is very plausible that the board is waiting for someone more permanent before they commit themselves to offering Lampard a contract or not. This would depend very much on the type of manager we’re bringing in. For example, if it is Jose Mourinho that re-assumes control at SW6, I’m 100% sure he’d want to keep Frank Lampard at the club, and probably Ferreira too. A manager like Antonio Conte, who relies heavily on golden oldies like Buffon and Pirlo, would also be naturally inclined to have trust in experience and know-how, so he’d probably want Lampard too. Similarly David Moyes relies on Phil Neville, Tim Howard and Tony Hibbert, so Lampard, Cech and Terry wouldn’t complain if it was him taking charge.
But if we’re looking at someone more like Guardiola, who will look to play a quick passing game with high pressing, like Laudrup or Bielsa, then Frank Lampard might not fit. Frankie doesn’t have the engine that he used to, and would struggle in a tiki-taka system that requires excellent defensive work-rate. We saw this to an extent early this season, when Mikel and Lampard as a double pivot totally failed. We tried to play expansive football, but when we lost possession the spaces between the lines were huge because JT, Cahill, Mikel and Lampard just didn’t have enough speed and stamina.
What do you think? Is Lampard replaceable, and if so who can replace Super Frank? Will he get his contract, or will we be subjected to Drogbaesque heartache at the end of the season when Lampard says farewell?