Imagine you’re Frank Lampard, it’s 2005, you’ve just come second to Ronaldinho in the Balon D’or, won back to back Premier Leagues, and the news is dominated by your manager wanting to sign Steven Gerrard.
You’d have some questions right?
All through their respective careers the pair were compared and the question was constantly ‘who do you prefer Lampard or Gerrard’.
However at international level, the pair never really seemed to click. Played often in the middle of a 4-4-2 England lacked the balance needed to make the pair work with both wanting to get forward and attack the box, which either left England exposed or took away one of the biggest attributes of their games if they were forced to sit back.
But Jose Mourinho had a plan, a way to get two of England’s greatest midfielders in the same team to make them unstoppable.
The plan had Makelele at the base of the midfield, using his incredible engine and reading of the game to stop any opposition counter attacks and quickly move the ball up the pitch.
Lampard would’ve stayed as a more natural 8, running from box to box, arriving at the right place at the right time to score yet another goal.
Gerrard would’ve had a more free role, able to push further up the pitch working off the lone striker, a role he played to almost perfection alongside Fernando Torres at Liverpool.
What might’ve been if it wasn’t for those death threats?
Fast forward 15 years, Lampard now Manager of Chelsea Football Club, about to announce the rumoured €100m signing of Kai Havertz.
The question on many people’s lips is where does he fit? And how does Lampard make that midfield work?
It’s pretty clear that Lampard prefers a 3 man midfield, where you’ve got N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Billy Gilmour vying for the starting spot at the base.
Then further forward of those two you’ve got last years player of the year Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Lofus-Cheek, Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and now Kai Havertz looking to start.
It’s what we call a ‘nice headache’ for Lampard to have.
Our post lockdown line ups may give us some clues as to what’s in Lampard’s mind, but what’s more clear is that the midfield that Mourinho described to Lampard back in 2005 is about to finally become reality?
Kante will take on that Makelele-esque role, using his unique ability to appear in two places at once to snuff out counter attacks and provide cover to overlapping attacking full backs.
Mount is Lampard 2.0, his engine enabling him to press high up the pitch for long periods of time. Add to that the ability to find the net and provide assists and you’ve got all the qualities you want in an 8.
The final piece of the jigsaw is Havertz, taking over the Gerrard role. Able to roam more freely, higher up the pitch, in positions that has seen Chelsea potentially spend €100m on.
Goals from midfield, or a lack there of, has been an issue for Chelsea ever since Lampard stopped playing.
For all their qualities, Jorginho and Kovacic are not goalscorers, neither is Kante.
Barkley only has 4 goals from his 50 appearances, Loftus-Cheek has returned 7 goals from 54 appearances (plus 2 in 24 during his loan spell for Crystal Palace).
Meanwhile, Mount has 24 goals from his three seasons of senior football at Vittesse, Derby County and his debut season for Chelsea.
While Havertz sits a level above, notching 36 goals from 118 appearances since his debut back in 2016.
Having those two sitting behind an attacking trio made up of any combination of Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Oliver Giroud, makes for exciting reading for Chelsea fans.
The difference for Lampard compared to Mourinho however is that Mourinho could rely on his back five to let the attackers do the business.
We can only hope new signings Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and coach Anthony Barry can make the difference we need.