Lampard not a factor in decision to let Derby field Mount & Tomori against Chelsea, says Zola

Last updated
Comments()
The Blues had the final say over whether their opponents could play two of their players in the Carabao Cup due to rules in the loan system

Chelsea have granted Frank Lampard the chance to play with his loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori on Wednesday, but Gianfranco Zola denies that his club did it just to help out the club legend.

Lampard is Chelsea's all-time top goalscorer with 211 goals, one of the club's most highly decorated players, and he is now managing Derby County, who drew Chelsea after knocking out Manchester United in the last round of the Carabao Cup.

Derby were faced with the possibility of not being able to use two players who have established themselves as regular first-teamers since joining on loan from Chelsea, only to see the Blues grant permission to field the pair.

Article continues below

But Zola, who conducted Chelsea's pre-match press conference in Maurizio Sarri's stead, denied that Mount and Tomori are just playing to help out an old friend of the club.

"Good question. No, it's not that," Zola said of Lampard's influence in allowing the young duo to play. "I can tell you it's not that. It is because we believe at the end of the day is that Mason and Tomori are growing up as players.

"We believe that by playing against us it is an opportunity for them to grow up quicker. The more they play against Premier League teams the more experience they get and we can make better evaluations on them. It was a great opportunity to see them play in front of us and we took that opportunity.

"It's important to see the two players playing to give us a good indication [of their level]. But in the future it does not mean we will keep doing that. There will be a lot at stake. It will be a game, from a technical, tactical and physical point of view, on a higher level than the ones they play in their own league.

"But there will also be a psychological component. They will have to play in front of a big crowd, the crowd of the team they belong to. It will give them a good test.

Mount is Derby's top scorer in all competitions with five goals in 17 games this season, while Tomori has featured 18 times for Lampard's Championship high fliers.

Like Lampard, Zola is regarded as a Chelsea legend, and was at the club when the former England international signed for £11 million from West Ham United in 2001. Zola later moved on as Chelsea had their most successful era in their history under new owner Roman Abramovich, following his lucrative 2003 takeover of the club.

Despite being a firm favourite at the Bridge, Zola admits that the silverware that Lampard won means that he is a bigger legend than himself.

“I never thought about that before, honestly, but if I have to see the results and the trophies that Frank has achieved with Chelsea, there is no doubt he is the bigger legend. He has achieved so much with this club, personally and for the club," he added. "He deserves big credit for this.

Frank Lampard Gianfranco Zola Chelsea

“I’m very honest on this. I know that myself, like many others, we are very important for the club because we started a process of getting better, becoming a well established team in England and Europe. I know I have done very well like Dennis Wise, Roberto Di Matteo and many others.

"But Frank, for the club, has really made a big mark, a big impression, like John Terry. So he deserves the credit.”

Even though he was only 22 when he first met Zola, the Italian suspected that Lampard's football intelligence and aptitude for the game meant that he could make the switch into coaching when the pair first met.

Zola says Lampard's legacy as a legend will help him in coaching as he takes on the challenge of leading Derby County, who are regarded as a major club in English football.

"Obviously when someone has his name it is a big advantage and if you are ready you can go and do that, provided you have someone next to you in the beginning who can help. Having Jody [Morris] who has experience at youth teams is important. It will help you get your ideas across in a better way.

Gianfranco Zola and Maurizio Sarri

"You can understand if someone has the qualities and the attitude to become a coach. Like for example, [Gus] Poyet, [Gianluca] Vialli, [Roberto] Di Matteo, you could see they would be it if they wanted. It was early days. We change all the time but he had the right attributes."

Next article:
France 1 Uruguay 0: Giroud hits the spot after Mbappe injury blow
Next article:
Portugal 1 Poland 1: Milik penalty salvages precious point as Danilo sees red
Next article:
Italy 1 United States 0: Politano snatches late winner for Mancini's men
Next article:
Scotland 3 Israel 2: Forrest hat-trick seals Nations League promotion
Next article:
Brazil 1 Cameroon 0: Richarlison fills Neymar's boots as skipper suffers injury
Close