Frank Lampard admits he never wanted Chelsea to become ‘an academy club’ following the club’s lavish summer spending.
Chelsea have made a statement of intent ahead of the new season by splashing out more than £200m on a host of new additions, the arrivals of the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz raising hopes that the west London side can challenge the division’s top sides this season.
Lampard was widely credited for handing Chelsea’s best young talents an opportunity last season, with players such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham thriving after being given regular minutes at Stamford Bridge, though it remains to be seen if the club’s academy youngsters continue that development amid increased competition for a first-team place.
Chelsea have long been accused of hoarding young talent without a clear pathway to the first-team and Lampard’s policy was a welcome change, however, the Blues boss insists he ‘never wanted’ to become an ‘academy club’ and says the focus should be on whether his side can compete for silverware.
“I loved the nurturing last year, but I never wanted us to become an academy club,” he told Sky Sports. “That story is great for five minutes and those debuts when you hand them out are really nice. But then it moves very quickly to people asking if you can win games now.
“When you see the injection of players and what they can bring – they have all brought personality with them already – that should bring a level of competition that lifts the squad to new levels.
“My feeling and my senses suggest the players are feeling that, but we have to show that on the pitch, and it is my job to manage that and take us forward.
“Last year we spoke a lot about the transfer ban, and it was very relevant. To come fourth last year was a big achievement and it certainly felt that way with the competition around us. That’s done now, and now we are looking at whether we can get better, whether we can improve as a club?
“I’m a Chelsea fan and any fan should get excited about the type of players we have brought in. It’s something we had a long look at last year. The ban allowed us to look at areas we wanted to improve, the profile, type and age of player we wanted to improve us in the long term.
“It feels good because it has been work, it’s what you set out to do. Recruitment is a huge part of trying to be a club that is successful at the top of the Premier League.
“Liverpool and Manchester City are big examples of that, they have got big coaches and great players they have brought in at the right time. We’ve made positive moves, now it comes down to work and whether we can show it on the pitch.”
Chelsea and their host of new signings get their Premier League campaign underway this evening when they travel to the South Coast to take on Brighton.