In the Stamford Bridge locker room, according to the heir apparent himself…
One of the trickiest pieces of business Roman Abramovich could do during his reign as Chelsea club owner is replace the fading midfield legend Frank Lampard, however, according to a 20-year-old Dutchman, the search is over as the Stamford Bridge brass have already assured him he will succeed the mainstay Blue from the past dozen years.
Marco van Ginkel may not have laced up his boots ahead of a competitive game for the Stamford Bridge side yet, but the tall player - 6'1 - told the national press in the Netherlands that he has been earmarked for great things in west London.
True, if he is to emulate the 35-year-old Lampard, he will go on to enjoy a silver-laden and accolade-heavy career as Romford-born Frank has a full trophy cabinet containing three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Champions League winners medal and a Europa League honour. This, together with a near endless array of individual prizes, rare feats such as approximately 1,400 successful passes on average a season (with at least ten assists) and an impeccable fitness record.
Speaking to the national press in his native Netherlands, van Ginkel indicated that he is delighted to be getting game-time and has been told that the club regard him as the successor to Lampard.
van Ginkel's selection during pre-season, though, may indicate that club boss Jose Mourinho will be pushing him for more match minutes than Lampard could receive as the youngster featured heavily during the tour of Asia, then America.
Voted the best young player in Holland last season whilst with Vitesse Arnhem, van Ginkel possesses a passing vision that belies his years, he has height, is strong, well-balanced, athletic, mobile, has strong technique, good energy, can retrieve the ball when his team have lost possession, is comfortable in a 4-3-3 formation and is showing signs of developing into a goal-scoring midfielder - as his 12 in all competitions last season is testament to. All qualities, it has to be said, that can be witnessed when watching Lampard.
Chelsea have tried hard to find a midfielder who can either fill the void left by Lampard when the Englishman retires, or stand up next to him, yet players like Maniche, Steve Sidwell and Alexei Smertin failed to live up to the high standards set by one of the club's greatest players.
However, van Ginkel has far more upside than any of the aforementioned did when they joined Chelsea and in Jose Mourinho has a natural motivator to nurture that talent even further during his career with the Premier League hopefuls.
While Mourinho warns van Ginkel is not like Andre Schurrle - the finished product - he does admire his natural athleticism but believes that, with games, his football IQ will rise.
'van Ginkel is one of the best prospects,' he recently said. 'He is a player with great potential'.
What do you think? Can van Ginkel be the new Frank Lampard for the next decade? Will he be even greater and mark out his own path? Or will the club be wise to recruit an experienced head to fill Frank's shows? Tell us in the comments below!
image: © Ronnie Macdonald