Frank Lampard could be set for a dramatic return to Stamford Bridge next season, with Chelsea reportedly keen for him to replace Maurizio Sarri as the club’s manager.
Lampard spent 13 years as a player with Chelsea after he moved across London to join the Blues from West Ham for £11m in 2001, and now a sensational Stamford Bridge return for the 40-year old Derby County manager’s looks inevitable.
After more than a decade of success at Chelsea between 2001 and 2014, Lampard left Stamford Bridge as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, making his exit with a lengthy list of honours including 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, a Europa League title and a Champions League winner’s medal.
News of Lampard’s potential appointment has been greeted with almost unanimous approval by Chelsea fans.
With no discernible connection between current boss Maurizio Sarri and the Blues’ support, it looks as though Chelsea fans’ indifference towards the Italian manager and his style of play have acted as a catalyst for change.
Click here to read our Chelsea vs Arsenal predictions, betting tips and 2018/19 Europa League match preview here!
Lampard’s Derby County audition
Lampard has only been in football management for a little under a year having taken the reins at Derby in late May 2018, however, the 106-times capped former England international’s impact as Rams boss has been immediate and impressive.
Though Lampard’s managerial experience was non-existent before taking the Pride Park hotseat, the tactical tenderfoot quickly put his stamp on things, building an exciting, slick Rams team on foundations of youthful enthusiasm and expressive football.
Lampard guided Derby to a 6th place Championship play-off spot finish, and after the Rams’ incredible two-legged victory over Leeds in the semi-finals, a Monday date with Aston Villa in a Wembley final awaits.
The news linking Lampard to the manager’s job at Stamford Bridge has broken at a hugely inopportune time for Derby in the midst of their play-off final preparations, though the Rams will hope that Lampard can sign off in style in the capital by leading the club to Premier League promotion.
Read our Derby County vs Aston Villa predictions and betting tips in our detailed match preview here.
Juventus’ major role in Chelsea’s future
In an intriguing set of circumstances, the futures of Chelsea, Juventus, Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard are inextricably linked.
This week, highly decorated current Juventus manager Max Allegri announced his intention to leave the Turin club after 5 years at the helm, and already well-sourced Italian journalists have made Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri favourite to replace him.
Sarri has only been at Stamford Bridge since July 2018, and though the Italian led Chelsea to a 3rd place Premier League finish and a Europa League Final in his first season at the club, the former Napoli coach’s style of play and stubborn adherence to his philosophical principles have made him a divisive figure among Blues’ supporters.
Adding a further layer to developments, Allegri himself has also been named among the front runners and leading candidates alongside Frank Lampard to replace Sarri at Chelsea manager.
While Allegri lacks Lampard’s deep connection with Chelsea and legendary status at the club, the Italian’s managerial pedigree and track record could appeal to the decision makers at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea job – a poisoned chalice?
It’s that deep rooted connection and long-spanning affiliation between Lampard and the club that seems to have given the Blues’ former midfielder the edge over Allegri, though there is a risk that Lampard could damage his Chelsea legacy by moving back to West London during a period of major uncertainty.
As things stand, Chelsea will be serving the first part of a transfer market ban this summer after the Blues were found guilty and punished by FIFA for breaching rules relating to the transfers of foreign minors.
Chelsea have appealed the decision, but if the ban is upheld, Lampard, or any new Chelsea manager, would be shorn of the power to strengthen the club’s squad before the start of next season.
With star player and match-changing talisman Eden Hazard looking certain to join Real Madrid this summer and other areas of the team already needing reinforcement, Lampard would be forced to promote from within.
The idea of flooding the Chelsea first team with the club’s academy products is something that appeals to the club’s supporters however, and there is a hope that Lampard’s arrival would help to retune Chelsea’s team-building strategy to a more home grown, holistic frequency.
Players like Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu who were used so sparingly by Maurizio Sarri, would almost certainly see more action under Lampard, who has already showcased an inclination for giving younger players a chance during his short managerial career.
Decisions to be made
Any decision about Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea future is likely to be delayed until after the club’s Europa League final against English top-flight rivals Arsenal on May 29th in Baku.
Frank Lampard and Chelsea will understandably be keen to keep distractions and speculation to a minimum ahead of huge weeks for both, domestically and on the continent respectively.
Derby County will want to ensure that Lampard is fully focussed on the club’s crucial Championship play-off final against Aston Villa at Wembley on Monday, while Sarri will be desperate to finish what looks certain to be a brief managerial flirtation with Chelsea on a high.
However, after the final ball is kicked in Azerbaijan next week, developments are sure to intensify, and Frank Lampard’s dramatic Stamford Bridge homecoming could be confirmed as early as the first week of June.