'Scoring is the next step for Kovacic' - Lampard calls for Chelsea ace to add goals to his game

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Mateo Kovacic
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The Blues boss would like to see the Croatian midfielder improve his contribution in the final third of the pitch after a bright start to the season

Frank Lampard is confident that Mateo Kovacic can start scoring regularly for Chelsea now that he "feels at home" at Stamford Bridge.

The 25-year-old spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Chelsea from Real Madrid, racking up 49 appearances across all competitions under Maurizio Sarri.

The Croatia international impressed enough to earn a permanent five-year contract at the Bridge, which he signed in July, and he has made great strides forward under the new manager.

Kovacic has been a fixture in Lampard's line up at the start of the new season, helping the Blues rise to fourth in the Premier League and compete for a place in the Champions League knockout phases.

The former Madrid ace has finally endeared himself to supporters after a slow start to life in west London, but Lampard is eager for him to take the "next step" and add goals to his game.

"It is commonplace for foreign players coming to the Premier League to have a period of settling in, that is normal," Lampard told Chelsea's official website.

"From Kovacic, I thought there were some really good performances last year. The fact he was in and out the team is never easy but I do think he feels at home now.

"His personality shines through in the group and he is a very likeable character with a slightly, nice tough side to him on and off the pitch, and he is a really good player.

"Now the natural progression is scoring goals and we are working on that one. You might see a big smile if he scores, not just from me or him but from the group, because we know he has the quality to score and that will be the next step."

French centre-back Kurt Zouma has also emerged as one of Chelsea's most important players this term, forging a formidable partnership alongside Fikayo Tomori in the heart of the defence.

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The 25-year-old returned to the Bridge with a point to prove this summer after a loan spell at Everton, and Lampard quickly placed his faith in a player he sees as a "leader in the group".

"He [Zouma] and Fikayo have formed a really nice partnership and it is great to have Andreas back now, and Toni will be back, because you need numbers in those positions," Lampard added.

"What Kurt has done, which is not easy, is to go out on loan and people then start to consider you something different from a Chelsea player.

"I never did. I told him very early in pre-season that he was part of my plans here and I believe in his qualities. I try to give him that confidence and he has got better and better as the season goes on.

"He is a bit of a leader in the group, strong physically to look at but a quality player, so I am delighted with how he plays."

Chelsea can solidify their place in the top four with a home win over Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.