Chelsea‘s crop of promising young players have earned plenty of praise this season – especially from their manager Frank Lampard.
Lampard was appointed Maurizio Sarri’s replacement this summer with a remit of promoting the club’s starlets, a decision that has paid dividends to date.
We’ve taken a closer look at what Lampard has said about some of the club’s most exciting young players so far this season.
One of the most obvious beneficiaries of both Lampard’s appointment and Chelsea’s transfer ban, Mount shone under the manager on loan at Derby County last season and has already established himself in Chelsea’s starting XI and the senior England squad this term.
Even Lampard has been surprised by the 20-year-old’s development, saying in September: “The all-round game and quality of Mason – he is the cataylst for us getting in front with his sharpness.
“He was brilliant for me at Derby. I did not expect this level but he he is improving daily. It is great for the club and a long time coming. The work is done in the academy. The mentality is great. They want to play for this club.”
A year ago this weekend, Tammy Abraham and Villa lost at QPR, Reece James and Wigan lost at Sheff Utd, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori drew at Middlesbrough with Derby, and Callum Hudson-Odoi couldn't make a PL matchday squad.
Look at them now. Believe in talent. pic.twitter.com/mLqY3TqjoX
— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) October 26, 2019
After a difficult first couple of outings at the start of the season, both Abraham and Lampard were under scrutiny over the striker’s performances.
Yet Lampard kept faith with Abraham, and the 22-year-old has responded with nine goals to his name in all competitions, earning a recall to the England squad in the process.
Earlier this month, the manager heaped praise on Abraham’s willingness to keep learning, saying: “He is a sponge. He wants to listen, he wants to get better, he wants to improve his game, he wants to score more goals, he wants to help his team-mates. And so he has got a beautiful base of that in terms of coaching.
“His goals and performances will show what he can do at this level. Hopefully, we can move him up the levels even more.
“He has been scoring goals regularly but today was not quite the norm. What you see with Tammy is what you get: physicality and movement. To keep trying and be a problem for the defenders.”
Tammy Abraham embodies everything I love about this Chelsea team. Talented, sure, but hardworking, passionate & selfless.
Saturday he went wild when Alonso scored a goal he really wasn’t a part of, and yesterday he was so happy to see Michy, his ST competition, score.
Love it. pic.twitter.com/6g87z0sBif
— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) October 24, 2019
Another player to impress under Lampard at Derby, Tomori has slotted straight into Chelsea’s backline and has even produced the most unlikely goal of the Premier League campaign, according to xG.
Lampard has described Tomori as his “project” player, saying: “I put trust in him early in the season – I think that was obvious with the way the pre-season went with the centre-backs.
“At the moment, he has really delivered and long may that continue. I think there is a lot more to come still.
“Last year as Derby he was fantastic. But you don’t know until you put players in. Against Sheffield United at home was a game where I thought he deserved his opportunity for his training.
“Those are the rules here. You have to train at a level. Then he gave me a big problem because he played so well and he has continued to do that. Yes, he is a project in a way but a nice one because everything you want him to do, he stands up and delivers.”
Hudson-Odoi’s eye-catching debut campaign was overshadowed by constant speculation about his future and a serious achilles injury, but the winger has returned to fitness and picked up from where he left off in superb form.
After the 18-year-old signed a new five-year deal to commit his future to Stamford Bridge, Lampard urged the youngster to follow in the footsteps of Raheem Sterling.
“I know Callum’s talent and he has got huge talent,” he said. “Hence why the club were so keen to get him signed up [to his new contract]. We’re all delighted with that. But there’s a lot of work for Callum to do. Lots of work.
“You can look around and look at fantastic examples and not even at this club.
“I don’t like to talk about other club’s players but Raheem Sterling is an incredible example of a player with great talent, whose work ethic added to that talent and improvement in a short period of time through absolute dedication, has seen him become a complete player, who we are all wowed by.
“He is a great model for Callum because Callum has those talents. I want him to be the absolute best because he has the potential to do that and some of it is about hard truths and I saw some hard truths in the game the other day – ways that he can improve.
“He needs to listen to them and he will. Then he can be that player for us.”
Pulisic has taken time to adapt to life in the Premier League, but he is starting to live up to the hype, most notably with a hat-trick against Burnley in Chelsea’s 4-2 win at Turf Moor.
“I’m absolutely delighted for him,” Lampard said afterwards. “A lot of talk around Christian for the big price tag, the fact he’s quite rightly a star in his country and plays for the US so well, so you get asked questions about it.
“I’m delighted to see him do that today. I know the backstory and the pressures of a move like that. I also know he played for his country through the summer and had one week break this summer to come back after that. Then you get the pressure of can you settle in the Premier League.
“I know what a good player he is, I see that close-hand. There are things he has to learn and improve because he’s just turned 21, it’s the same with all young players. There are things that he’s going to work on and I think he knows it and he knows that I’m driving that daily in training.
“The way he’s trained in the past few weeks, and the impact he’s had when playing, he’s said to everyone, ‘Here I am,’ and what talent he does have. I’m really pleased for him today.
“It’s what we need from all our attacking players; to be a threat, to play like that, have a ruthless edge about how they finish and he showed the full package today.
“When you talk about the Premier League one thing there is is physicality, particularly at places like Burnley. When he moves the ball so quickly like he can do, he can cause a lot of problems. It’s a great thing to watch when people have balance like that.
“The first goal when he waits, then a step over and then moves away again from the player, that stuff is brilliant. I hope it gives him the confidence that it should do, and I’m pretty sure it will do, that will do him great going forward.”
21': Pulisic Goal
45': Pulisic Goal
56': Pulisic Goal
— Pulisic Staff (@PulisicCaptain) October 27, 2019
A promising loan spell at Wigan last season saw James catch the eye, and the 19-year-old has made five appearances for Chelsea in all competitions after injury ruled him out of the start of the campaign.
“Reece’s performances last year at Wigan when he was in the Team of the Year in the Championship showed the talent he has got and he is going to be a big player for this club,” Lampard told Chelsea’s official website after James’ debut for the Blues.
“He has got a great player and person to look up to in Cesar Azpilicueta, who is in his position.”
Reece James vs Burnley away in just 27 minutes
✅ 100% passing accuracy
✅ 20 passes
✅ 30 touches
✅ 1 long ball completed
✅ 2 shots blocked
✅ 1 tackle
✅ 1 clearance
Not long until Reece is in the starting 11 every week. pic.twitter.com/XiQoMPvcx0
— JMH (@ChelseaCentral_) October 26, 2019
An impressive pre-season saw Gilmour, signed from Rangers two years ago, work his way into Lampard’s first-team plans.
The 18-year-old has appeared twice for the senior side this season, with Lampard telling Chelsea TV in September: “Every training session Billy takes part in he lights it up with energy, quality and angles.
“He’s like an old-fashioned midfield player. I know modern midfield players do it, he’s constantly making angles, berating people even though he’s a young boy, personality in the way he plays, never scared to receive the ball. He’s got a really big chance.”
“In pre-season the manager had a chat with me saying he knew I wanted to go on loan but said it would be better if I stayed.
“Obviously it's working. He's looking at younger players. Hopefully, I can try to get more first-team games.”
– Billy Gilmour
Proving a great decision! pic.twitter.com/s4BlzIzngZ
— Simon Phillips (@SiPhillipsSport) October 16, 2019