The vacuum left by Frank Lampard’s exit from Chelsea is too big, even summer recruit Cesc Fabregas is not yet conditioned to fit into, according to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Lampard was released by the Blues at the end of the 2013/14 season and has signed a two-year deal with Major League Soccer franchise New York FC last month. The legendary midfielder will train at rivals Manchester City until mid-January, because his new ‘Big Apple’ team- partly owned by the Citizens- are not due in action until March 2015.
The Premier League’s all-time leading midfield goal scorer with 171 goals, won three league titles, four FA Cup, two League Cups, and captained the side to their first-ever Champions League and Europa League triumph in quick succession in 2012 and 2013.
“Frank is Frank, he is irreplaceable,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “No chance.”
The Portuguese boss brought in Fabregas from Barcelona this summer for a reported £30m fee. He claims the Spanish star won’t be able to replace the England international, who is the ‘Blues’ all-time top scorer with 211 goals in 649 matches (from 2001- 2013), but reiterates he “brings in a new dimension” to the team.
Mourinho added: “Fabregas is the player we need to modify a little bit (in) the profile of our game. We want to give the next dimension to our game in midfield.
“But I think we can never say- in spite of Cesc, who is a fantastic player as you know- that, ‘This guy is coming to replace Frank’, because Frank is Frank.
“One day he will be alongside Peter Osgood (the Chelsea legend whose statue stands outside the West Stand of Stamford Bridge) in terms of a statue being built for him because he’s fantastic.”
City and Chelsea, who finished third in the league last season with the former West Ham midfielder scoring 6 times in 26 appearances, will meet at the Etihad Stadium on September 21.
Mourinho ended without winning a trophy on his return to the club he initially managed between 2004 to 2007.
Chelsea have bought midfielder Mario Pasalic (undisclosed) from Hadjuk Split, striker Diego Costa (£32m), left-back Filipe Luis (£15.8m) both from Atletico Madrid, Didier Drogba (free agent) and Fabregas in the close season, as ‘The Special One’ prepares for the season he previews to shape into a much tougher campaign.
“In England it is even stronger now than in my firs period. Even more now because when I first came Man City didn’t have this financial situation they have now. Even Tottenham at this moment, all the top five or six. In this moment can you tell me who is going to win the Premier League?, asked the Stamford Bridge boss. “You can’t tell me.
“Can you tell me which one of the top five is going to be outside the Champions League? You can’t say. This is what I want. For my concept of what a League should be, this is the best.”