Former Chelsea favourite Frank Lampard has returned to Stamford Bridge, replacing Maurizio Sarri as manager following the Italian’s departure for Juventus.
Whilst a return to the club where he spent 13 trophy-laden years as a player may represent a ‘dream job’ for the 41-year-old, Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer will be presented with several difficulties following his return to West London.
Here are five key issues facing Frank Lampard and Chelsea next season…
Coping without Eden Hazard
It had long been expected, but Belgian star Eden Hazard departed Chelsea for Real Madrid this summer, having established himself as one of the club’s greatest players during a seven-year stay at the club.
The winger’s defection will leave a huge void in the Chelsea side, the 28-year-old having been a talismanic presence during his spell at Stamford Bridge.
Since arriving from Lille in 2012, no Premier League player has created more chances than Hazard, putting him ahead of the likes of David Silva and Christian Eriksen.
Last season was also Hazard’s best goalscoring campaign for Chelsea, having scored 21 in all competitions including a brace in the Europa League final success over Arsenal. Hazard’s 15 Premier League assists was also the highest total in the division, and a tally which was not bettered by any player across Europe’s top five leagues.
His loss leaves Chelsea with a huge creative void to fill, which will obviously prove problematic for new manager Lampard.
When a new manager is appointed, they are usually backed by the club’s owners as they bid to put their own stamp on the playing squad. Unfortunately for Lampard, Chelsea are currently serving a two-window transfer-ban and are unable to register new players until the summer of 2020.
This represents a significant task for the former Chelsea midfielder, who will have to utilise the cards he has been dealt as he bids to improve on last season’s third place finish and prepare Chelsea for a return to the Champions League.
Christian Pulisic, signed from Borussia Dortmund in January before being loaned back to the German club, is the only new option at Lampard’s disposal and he will have to try and get the best from a squad he has inherited, rather than improved, next season.
Chelsea’s transfer-ban could prove beneficial to the club’s best young talent, having previously seen their route to the first-team blocked by expensive recruits in recent seasons.
Chelsea have long had one of Europe’s most successful youth sides, however the integration of the club’s finest young talent into the first-team has been poor.
In his sole season at Derby, Lampard has proven he is willing to put his trust in youth, having handed opportunities to the likes of Harry Wilson and on-loan Chelsea duo Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
Lampard’s ability to integrate youth is said to have appealed to the club’s hierarchy, who will hope the club can build on the success of their academy.
The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mount and Tomori have all returned to Stamford Bridge this summer following successful loan spells away, can Lampard provide a platform for young talent to shine at Chelsea next season?
The Jorginho/Kante debate
Jorginho arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £57m move from Napoli last summer, in a deal which was seen as key to implementing Sarri’s preferred style of play.
The Italian international’s arrival saw him stationed at the base of Chelsea’s midfield as the side’s deep-lying playmaker, forcing N’golo Kante into an unfamiliar advanced position.
Kante had established himself as arguably the world’s finest defensive midfielder, winning the Premier League title at both Chelsea and Leicester and the World Cup with France.
Kante’s move to accommodate Jorginho sparked much criticism, however Sarri was stubborn in his approach. Sarri’s departure leaves Lampard with the decision on where best to utilise Kante next season, with many feeling the deepest role is his best.
Should Kante return to his favoured holding position, doubts will be raised over Jorginho’s role at the club. The 27-year-old lacks the physical attributes to play a more dynamic role, and is unlikely to dislodge the likes of Ross Barkley, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the remaining midfield positions.
For all his multitude of honours as a player, Lampard has taken a role at one of English football’s biggest clubs despite having just a year of managerial experience.
Lampard impressed during his season in charge at Derby, guiding the Midlands club to the Championship play-off final, however there is a huge gap between life in England’s second tier and competing in the Champions League.
Great players do not always necessarily make great managers, as we have seen many a time, though Lampard can take heart from the likes of Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane who took over elite clubs as novice managers.
Lampard has taken another former Chelsea midfielder, Jody Morris, back to Stamford Bridge with him having worked together at Derby, as well as several members of his backroom staff.
Having coaches around him that he can trust should prove highly beneficial to his hopes of being a success at Chelsea, in a role which looks set to be a significant challenge.