Frank Lampard on Chelsea’s title hopes, Alvaro Morata and new Man United signing – exclusive interview
We caught up with Chelsea legend and new BT Sport pundit Frank Lampard this week to take a look ahead to the new Premier League season
We headed to the BT Sport studios in east London this week to catch up with Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.
Lampard has recently been confirmed as the broadcaster’s latest signing, with the England legend set to team up with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand from this season.
Check out the full interview below.
How have you found the transition from player to pundit so far?
Enjoyable! Being a player is probably the best job you can do as a young boy loving football. But I got to the point where I knew I was getting towards the end of my career. I felt very happy with what I’d done, I was 38 years of age and fortunate enough to have a big career and I wanted something different.
So I’ve had some time off, and now I’m involved with BT Sport. It’s probably the next best thing from playing, to be here amongst the ex-players who I’ve played with, commenting on games and trying to give the people at home the analysis that they want. I’ll do my best to be good at it!
There’s been a lot of focus on your old club Chelsea recently. What have you made of Chelsea’s transfer business so far?
I think the players that they’ve bought are good players, certainly. They have to replace Diego Costa it seems, who is on his way out even if he’s still a Chelsea player [at the moment]. I think Alvaro Morata is a top quality striker with great movement and I think he’ll suit the way Chelsea play, the way he moves and plays right up on the front line and runs in behind a lot.
Tiemoue Bakayoko was very impressive last year, he’s very physical. Antonio Rudiger is not exactly a utility man but can play across the back, on the right side, centre, maybe even as a wing-back. I think they’re good players but the fact is that they’ve lost players – Costa seemingly and Nemanja Matic, an important player – and now they’ve got to fight for the Champions League as well as the Premier League. I think they’ve probably got to add to the squad even more and I think that’s what Chelsea fans will be waiting for.
You mentioned Bakayoko there. He’s obviously been brought in as a replacement for Matic, it would seem. What did you make of Matic’s move to Manchester United?
I think Matic [himself] personally maybe wanted to move on. You respect that if that is the case. It’s just strange that he’s gone to a competitor. He’s going to strengthen Manchester United. You saw that in the Uefa Super Cup game – he’ll fit very well in there.
He did that job for Chelsea with great tactical discipline. He’s very good at winning the ball back and moving the ball very well. It’s quite strange but Chelsea have always been thinking forward. They’ve been doing that for years by buying younger players and trying to improve them, and I think Bakayoko, if he keeps improving, he is going to be a serious signing.
You said that Chelsea still need to strengthen this summer. What do you think are their main weaknesses that need addressing?
I think they need to thicken the squad. They’re probably OK at the back with the back-three they’ve got and they’ve got back-up now. I think they will probably want one or maybe two wing-backs on both sides, not just as back-ups but to challenge what they’ve got. The wing-backs were fantastic last season but they’ll want to strengthen there.
They also need a midfield player now that Matic has gone. I know Bakayoko has come in but they had Nathaniel Chalobah last year and he’s gone, so I think they need a defensive, strong midfield player who can sit alongside N’Golo Kante and give them their base.
And maybe another attacking option. You look around at the top teams and they have lots of options going forward and now Chelsea maybe could do with someone a bit different. I don’t like the saying ‘plan B’ but someone who offers something slightly different up front, to play alongside Morata or to rotate with the forwards and Michy Batshuayi.
Morata joining Chelsea is one of the biggest transfers of the summer so far. He’s got some quite big boots to fill if he is going to step in for Diego Costa. Do you think he’s ready to do that?
Yeah, I do. We won’t know until the season starts because it’s a big ask. At Real Madrid last year he was slightly in and out [of the team], he wasn’t their main striker. To come to a club like Chelsea and be number one, and to have to follow someone who’s done it very well, there’s pressure. That’s how you separate the good from the great. I hope he’s got the mentality.
I certainly think that he’s got the talent, and not it’s up to him to be confident enough to come in and say ‘yes, I’m number one’ and score 20+ goals a season, which would keep Chelsea right up there.
If you had to put a name on a player to sign for Chelsea, realistically who would you go for?
Is Lionel Messi realistic?! I don’t know. For me, the best players in the league last year were Eden Hazard and Harry Kane. So you’re looking at Harry Kane but they won’t be able to get him, that’s a fact. He’s at Tottenham and he’s very happy there. He’s a fantastic player. You can dream about taking all of the top players in the world.
How do you see the Premier League title race panning out this season?
I think it’s going to be as close as we’ve seen for years. The way all of the top clubs have added to their squads… Chelsea were by far and away the strongest team last year but they’re going to be challenged much closer this year.
Chelsea will be up there, Manchester City and Manchester United will be up there and Tottenham – that would be my top four. Arsenal and Liverpool can challenge as well, I think the quality’s there. It definitely makes for an exciting season.
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