Chelsea's Midfield Options Under Frank Lampard - Ranked

Nischal Schwager-Patel
Chelsea FC's Jorginho (left) and Mateo Kovačić (right).
Chelsea FC's Jorginho (left) and Mateo Kovačić (right). / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Frank Lampard has some important decisions ahead for the remainder of the season.

Selecting the midfield is one of his trickiest dilemma. The choice of playing Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić together has been confused by the return of the talented Ruben Loftus-Cheek, while the fitness of N’Golo Kanté and breakthrough of Billy Gilmour have given the boss some things to seriously think about.

Lampard has seven midfielders in the senior ranks, with a midfield three in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 setup his most favoured. But who should sit at the top of the pecking order moving forward? Who is the most vital player for the team? And, if necessary, who should be sold this summer?

Here's a look into that - ranking Chelsea's current options in midfield.

7. Ross Barkley

Chelsea FC's Ross Barkley scores in the FA Cup.
Chelsea FC's Ross Barkley scores in the FA Cup. / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Although Ross Barkley has the third most goal contributions of the Chelsea midfield - including more than the man top of the list - he's yet to find his feet consistently in west London blue.

That being said, Barkley has had some good moments. He scored a superb solo goal in the FA Cup win over Liverpool earlier this year, and has three assists in his last two games. But the fact that he has played 48% of games this season proves he is not a first-choice player, and that's unlikely to change given the players he's competing with.

Keep or Sell?

Sell. Barkley does not look like he can displace any of the club’s top midfielders. For all his golden moments in west London, it is time for him to move on.

6. Billy Gilmour

Chelsea FC's Billy Gilmour on his full Premier League debut.
Chelsea FC's Billy Gilmour on his full Premier League debut. / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Among all the recent youth breakthroughs at Stamford Bridge, Gilmour has been one of the most exciting. Relatively unknown outside of Cobham before, and now earning plaudits across the country for his standout displays against Liverpool and Everton.

Gilmour’s potential is unmatched, and at 19 he still has so much more time to develop and find his way into the Chelsea midfield. He should earn a few more starts him this season as he continues his first team progress, and while it is too early for him to be at the heart of midfield week in week out, he is certainly one for the future.

Keep or Sell?

Keep. Chelsea have found a gem. They need to keep giving him minutes throughout the next few years and he'll eventually become one of the first names on the team sheet.

5. N’Golo Kanté

Chelsea FC's N'Golo Kanté.
Chelsea FC's N'Golo Kanté. / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

This season has been a challenging one for Kanté, blighted by injuries he has carried since the Europa League Final last year. His 22 appearances this season is his lowest ever tally, missing more games than ever before.

Kanté is still a good player, but with injuries getting the better of him and the fact he's turning 30 next year, it might be time to sell for the right price.

Lampard has denied talk of selling the Frenchman this summer, but Real Madrid have been keen for a long time. PSG are sniffing around, too.

Keep or Sell?

Sell. It's the hardest decision to make, but if the offer is right and the money eye-catching, now may be the perfect time to cash in on Kanté. The decision falls down to Lampard and whether he really wants to keep him as part of his squad, but the time may have arrived to bid farewell to the World Cup winner.

4. Jorginho

Chelsea FC's Jorginho.
Chelsea FC's Jorginho. / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Signed as an integral part of Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy, Jorginho remains as key as ever to Chelsea - even after his Italian compatriot’s departure. His seven goals in 37 games remarkably make him the Blues’ joint-second top scorer this season, with his penalty prowess earning them four points across all competitions.

Despite the criticism mixed with praise he receives, Jorginho is a wonderful midfielder and is a crucial player for Chelsea. His range of passing and spot kick record matter more to the club than they realise. There is a reason he has made the joint-second most appearances for them - he is a pivotal player.

Keep or Sell?

Keep. When the talks of a trade deal with Juventus for Miralem Pjanić were flying around, it seemed pointless and a move in the wrong direction for Chelsea. He has already shown his class and importance inside his first two seasons, and still has a lot to offer and achieve in what can be a successful stint at Stamford Bridge.

3. Mason Mount

Chelsea FC's Mason Mount.
Chelsea FC's Mason Mount. / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Mount is the most versatile of Chelsea’s midfielders, excelling as an attacking midfielder and even a winger outside of the midfield three. His 41 appearances show how much he is valued by Lampard, getting six goals and five assists in his debut campaign. He has a very bright career ahead of him, still only 21 with a lot of potential.

However, his performances rely on what formation the Blues line up in. He can play as a central midfielder, but plays with so much more freedom as a number 10. Even playing out wide, he does not seem to be as comfortable as he is down the middle, meaning that his status and impact at Chelsea could come down to using the right tactics.

Keep or Sell?

Keep. Mount is one of Lampard’s most favoured midfielders and players for a reason, and will be at the Bridge for many years to come.

2. Ruben Loftus-Cheek

This last year has been devastating for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, spending almost 12 months on the sidelines after an achilles tendon injury in a post-season friendly. But the Englishman is ready and raring to go, having scored an impressive brace in a 7-1 friendly thrashing of local rivals Queens Park Rangers.

The season suspension means he will be able to feature this season, reminding fans just how outstanding and significant he is. His performances last campaign proved his worth and ability in midfield, and now he is prepared to return to the Blues' midfield after a year-long layoff. We will see just why he is dubbed the ‘Lewisham Ballack’.

Keep or Sell?

Keep. There is no chance Loftus-Cheek could be sold after being injured for so long - it would be cruel. But aside from that, he is one of the best players at the club when fit and given the chance, and will surely be aiming to hit the ground running whenever he returns to the pitch.

1. Mateo Kovacic

Chelsea FC's Mateo Kovačić.
Chelsea FC's Mateo Kovačić. / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

If any midfielder - let alone player - will be the first name on the Chelsea teamsheet, it will be Mateo Kovačić. He did not get the recognition he deserved in his debut season under Sarri, but the Croatian has simply been outstanding since he joined as a permanent player last summer.

Kovačić is the heart, soul and driving force of Chelsea’s midfield. Whatever setup Lampard has chosen to deploy this season, he has been there. The first objective will be to finish this season the way he started it, before aiming to drive the Blues on to bigger and better things next year.

Keep or Sell?

Keep. It did not look like he would remain past his loan spell last season, but Chelsea will be so grateful that they decided to trigger the option to buy him. There's a strong case to suggest Kovačić is Chelsea’s best midfielder.

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