211 goals in 648 appearances, along with 13 major honours. How could anyone possibly replace that? Well, Cesc Fabregas is the man landed with the job as Chelsea bid farewell to the most decorated player in their history.
Lampard joined Chelsea in the Summer of 2001 for 2001 for £11M from London rivals West Ham United. Alongside John Terry, he became one of the most talismanic figures at the West London club. Between 2001 and 2014 he scored an incredible 171 league goals from 577 appearances in Britain’s top flight, earning himself a reputation as one of England’s finest ever players. A glittering career, including an enormity of individual and collective honours with the Blues came to an end this Summer when Chelsea refused to offer the 36 year-old a new deal, forcing Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer to look elsewhere. He did, and he now finds himself at Premier League champions Manchester City on a six-month loan deal having signed for new MLS franchise New York City FC who don’t begin their footballing endeavours until 2015.
However, Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho are thinking long-term now. They have looked to ex Arsenal and Barcelona maestro Cesc Fabregas to guide them to more major trophies. The Spaniard put pen to paper a five-year deal from Barcelona earlier this Summer in a deal thought to be in the value of up to £27M as Mourinho attempts to find the perfect player to fill the massive void left by Lampard in the heart of the Chelsea midfield. It’s fair to say Mourinho is adamant that Fabregas is the right man for the vacancy. He has since been quoted as saying, “He is the kind of player we [Chelsea] need.” he said.
“He is a player in the best years of his career – 26, 27, 28. He knows England well, he knows the Premiership well, so he will not need time to adapt.”
Lampard’s legacy will always cast a shadow over Fabregas’ Chelsea career, but with the Spaniard’s experience and jaw-dropping abilities, he will have no problem in shoving the pressure to one side as he’ll look to settle down as quickly as possible. Before he rejoined Barcelona from Arsenal in 2011, the former Gunners captain was arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League at the time. His goalscoring record may not be as prolific as Lampard’s, but his trophy cabinet is more than capable of matching up to the Chelsea legend, with a Spanish title, multiple cups, European Championships and a World Cup winner’s medal to his name.
The main question on people’s minds will no doubt be: Can Fabregas make those runs from midfield like Lampard did for so many seasons and score the crucial goals that won Chelsea many big games over the years? It’s hard to say that you couldn’t see him doing so as the Catalan native has a sharp eye for a goal as well as a fair share of assists. He has even been deployed as a striker with Barcelona and the Spanish national side in the past when required. His versatility means that Fabregas will offer many options to an evolving Chelsea side under Mourinho. Fabregas’ competitive edge will see him flourish at Stamford Bridge as did Lampard’s, while he embarks on a very unusual journey this season.
Chelsea defeated Burnley 3-1 on Monday night with Fabregas setting up two of the Blues’ goals eventually picking up the Man of the Match award after the game. One assist was particularly sublime, (Schurrle goal) wasting no time in laying down a marker and resuming from where he left off on his return to the Barclays Premier League. Mourinho was delighted with his performance saying,”I agree completely with Cesc as man of the match,” said the Chelsea boss, whose side moved straight to the top the table.
“He controlled the tempo of the game and was responsible for the best phase of our play.” He added, “I hope he has more of that.”
Some will see Frank Lampard as simply irreplaceable, others will feel that Fabregas is in the peak of his already illustrious career and is more than ready to grab the reigns from Lampard and steer Chelsea to glory as the Blues aim for the highest heights in a season where they have to succeed.
Do you feel that Cesc Fabregas possesses all the qualities required to replace Frank Lampard at Chelsea, or is he a completely different type of player that should not really be compared? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .