Lam­pard ‘proud and hon­oured’ to take his Derby team ‘home’ to Chelsea


Mau­r­izio Sarri has taken a break from his me­dia du­ties thus far in the League Cup. A rest had a cer­tain apt­ness ahead of Frank Lam­pard’s re­turn to Stam­ford Bridge. It meant one Chelsea great was dis­cussing an­other.

It is a moot point who is the club’s finest ever player. Gian­franco Zola may be the con­nois­seur’s choice. He was the artist. Lam­pard could get the statis­ti­cian’s vote. He was the ma­chine. “He is a leg­end,” said Zola, now Chelsea’s as­sis­tant man­ager. “Lam­pard is the best mid­fielder I’ve ever seen at at­tack­ing the box. That’s why he scored so many goals.”

There were 211 for Chelsea, a record that is all the more re­mark­able be­cause he was not a for­ward. “His work in the box was ex­cep­tional,” Zola said.

But the new Derby County man­ager ploughed a trail from box to box over the course of 13 years that brought 648 ap­pear­ances, be­hind only Ron Har­ris, Peter Bonetti and John Terry for Chelsea.

He played at least 48 games in 10 sea­sons. He scored at least 15 goals in nine.

All of which may make com­par­isons with the most ef­fi­cient player of his gen­er­a­tion un­fair. But Ross Barkley has scored in three con­sec­u­tive league games, wear­ing Chelsea’s No 8 shirt. Is he the new Lam­pard?

“His scor­ing abil­ity is com­ing on very well,” Zola said. “Ross likes to play more with the ball, pass­ing. There are some dif­fer­ences with him and Frank.”

A younger con­tender is Ma­son Mount, the 19-year-old Lam­pard’s Derby have bor­rowed from Chelsea.

He has scored five times al­ready from mid­field this sea­son; like his man­ager, he can find the net from out­side the box.

“His qual­ity, his tal­ent and work rate means he can be very spe­cial,” Lam­pard said. “Even if he’s hav­ing a game when he can’t al­ways be af­fect­ing ev­ery­thing with the ball, his work rate is out­stand­ing.”

Chelsea have granted Mount and Fikayo To­mori, their Eng­land Un­der 21 in­ter­na­tional de­fender, per­mis­sion to play for Derby on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s great for them, they’ve worked hard through­out the years to try and ful­fil their dream, and it’s part of their jour­ney,” Lam­pard said.

As­sum­ing a mi­nor foot in­jury does not rule Mount out, eyes will be on him; Zola’s in­cluded.

“I came across him when we were analysing and I said: ‘This player is for us,’” the Ital­ian said. “To send him to play in Eng­land showed it was good for him. I like him very

Mount has scored five times al­ready from mid­field this sea­son; like Lam­pard, he can find the net from out­side the box

much. Phys­i­cally, Ma­son has to im­prove, but he is get­ting on very well.”

Were they still at Stam­ford Bridge, the pair would prob­a­bly rank in Chelsea’s third 11; mi­nus the in­jured Eden Haz­ard and with Pe­dro and Olivier Giroud doubts, Sarri will prob­a­bly field a sec­ond 11 that is still packed with ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lam­pard has shown no such re­luc­tance to blood youth, parachut­ing the Chelsea loa­nees into his team, of­ten at the ex­pense of some sea­soned Cham­pi­onship stal­warts.

Five play­ers age 22 or un­der started when they knocked out Manch­ester United in the last round. The bor­rowed Liver­pool young­ster Harry Wil­son scored a spec­tac­u­lar goal, while he and Mount both con­verted penal­ties in the shoot-out. Re­sults have been mar­ried with an en­ter­pris­ing, at­tack­ing style of play.

“To suc­ceed as a coach, you have to think of other things and Frank has this abil­ity,” said an ad­mir­ing Zola.

It sug­gest Lam­pard’s man­age­rial ca­reer, only 18 games old, could be long and dis­tin­guished. His play­ing days cer­tainly were. He made a 13-minute cameo for Manch­ester City at Stam­ford Bridge in 2015, but this feels a dif­fer­ent sort of re­union. He will re­ceive a rap­tur­ous wel­come.

“I re­alise how im­por­tant Chelsea were in my life and what I owe for that,” he said. “I’ll be proud and hon­oured to be tak­ing my team to my home for 13 years.”

Frank Lam­pard’s Derby side will con­tain two Chelsea loa­nees

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