Gianluca Di Marzio has claimed that Chelsea have already made the decision to replace Maurizio Sarri with club legend Frank Lampard.
While we firmly believe that Sarri deserves a second season at Chelsea, having achieved our season objectives, it can’t hurt to imagine what we’d look like under Lamps.
Here’s how we predict that Chelsea’s starting eleven would look like come the start of next season if Lampard took the reins from Sarri this summer.
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga
Despite threatening to undo all his good work in the Carabao Cup final, Kepa Arrizabalaga’s debut season at Chelsea has been a highly successful one.
We’re extremely optimistic about the future with Kepa between the sticks. If Lampard, or any other manager, arrived, he’d surely recognise his quality.
RB: Cesar Azpilicueta
While Cesar Azpilicueta has never officially been elected club captain, he’s one of very few natural leaders within the current Chelsea squad.
Lampard knows the worth of the so-called ‘old guard’, even if he does place great value on playing young players, as he has at Derby County.
Reece James will get his opportunity to shine and nail down the right-back spot at some point in the future, but it’s difficult to imagine that time being now.
CB: Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger has been one of Chelsea’s best players this season. The knee injuries he’s battled through towards the end of the campaign have been a great shame.
He ought to be a cornerstone in the Chelsea side going forward, regardless of who sits in the dugout. We reckon that Lampard would love him.
CB: Kurt Zouma
This one might raise a few eyebrows, but Sarri only brought David Luiz back into the starting eleven due to his ability to break defensive lines with his passes from the back.
In the event of the departure of ‘Sarriball’, Luiz could find himself being phased out once again. Kurt Zouma, who has impressed for Everton, is ready to step up to the mark.
LB: Emerson PalmieriChristopher Lee/Getty Images
We apologise to Marcos Alonso, but it’s difficult to imagine another manager putting up with his clear deficiencies in the defensive third.
Emerson Palmieri is the more accomplished and reliable option on the left-side of defence. We predict that he would be the left-back of Lampard’s choice.
It’s a weak area for us, no doubt, and one that could be addressed if the club are allowed to make signings this summer. We’ll have to wait and see.
DM: N’Golo Kante
It’s the return of the double-pivot!
While N’Golo Kante, being a truly world-class midfielder, has adapted seamlessly to the new role he’s been given under Sarri, it’s unlikely that Lamps would persevere with it.
Kante’s natural position is playing deeper, breaking up play while acting as the base of the midfield. He could be given the chance to return to that role under Lampard.
There would be life at Chelsea for Jorginho after Sarri’s departure. He’s proven over the past month what a talented player he really is.
Playing alongside Kante in a pivot would mask his flimsy defensive work, allowing him to fully focus on distributing the ball from deep.
Mason Mount, fresh off a great campaign at Derby under Lampard, could provide cover for Jorginho in this role, or even operate further forward as a 10.
RM: Christian Pulisic
Lampard is a forward-thinking manager, as he has shown at Derby. He’s not afraid to give younger players a chance, even at the expense of their seniors.
Pulisic could come into the side and immediately spell the end of Willian and Pedro’s time as Chelsea regulars. They’re both the wrong side of 30, so it would make sense.
AM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
While Ruben Loftus-Cheek will almost certainly miss the start of next season, there’s no doubt in our mind that he would be at the forefront of Lampard’s mind.
An English central midfielder, playing for Chelsea, who has a knack of getting on the scoresheet, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Ruben could thrive under Lampard, just as he was under Sarri prior to his injury. He’s destined to be a world-class player, and we can’t wait to watch him grow.
LM: Callum Hudson-Odoi
If Lampard’s ethos really is to give talented young players a platform to thrive, then nobody would benefit more from his appointment than Callum Hudson-Odoi.
It took Hudson-Odoi months to convince Sarri that he was first-team ready, despite proving his readiness everytime he was given the opportunity to play.
There’d be no doubt in Lampard’s mind of his potential. No trust that would have to be earned. He’d be allowed to spread his wings and fly.
ST: Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham scores goals. He has an instinctive ability to find himself in the right positions in the penalty area and find the back of the net.
That’s exactly what Chelsea have lacked in recent seasons, that killer instinct, the natural, innate understanding of how to score goals.
Abraham has proven time and time again that he possesses it, and at just 21-years-old, he would only continue to develop under Lampard’s stewardship.
Monitor Sarri’s employment with Chelsea carefully. Any change would be made after this season concludes.