Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists Frank Lampard has what it takes to overcome his advancing years by transforming himself into a deep-lying playmaker.
Despite becoming the Blues’ record goalscorer last season, the 35-year-old no longer boasts the characteristic energy that saw him miss just four league games in three season during Mourinho’s first spell at Stamford Bridge.
However, the Portuguese manager is adamant the vice-captain still has a major role to play in the midfield and expects him emulate Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs in adapting his game to suit his age.
"Of course Frank can become that [a deep-lying playmaker]," Mourinho told the Guardian. "He has to adapt and learn every day how to play with this 'new body'.
“A player can still learn new skills at his age, for sure. I'm 50 and have been a manager since 2000, and I'm learning every day, every match, with every experience. You can always learn new skills, especially if the player has an open mind like he does.
"He's a player who can keep the side's balance, a player who thinks about the game and can work with kids around him.”
Mourinho believes that his own strong relationship with Lampard will play a crucial role in helping the player to adapt his game for the final years of his career.
“For him, it was very good that I'm back because the trust is so big,” the former Real Madrid boss explained.
“He knows that every decision I make on him is for my team – because that's the most important thing – but also for him.
“So if, one day, I bring him off at 70 minutes, or if I leave him on the bench or give him a rest and don't select him, it's for his own good. He knows, without me speaking to him every day – which I don't do with my players – that I'm doing it for him, and that I might need him round the corner to play often.
“The trust and friendship is so big that he is happy, he's calm, he's cool. At this moment of his career, it was very important for him to have somebody like me around. For him, it's very good."