Could this £8m midfielder become Chelsea's unsung hero next season?

Marco van Ginkel may end up as important to Chelsea as any other midfielder at the club.

The 21-year-old joined the Blues last term and appeared sporadically for Jose Mourinho's side before injury cruelly cut his season short.

But Van Ginkel has slowly returned to fitness and the departure of a certain Frank Lampard has left a space open in central midfield. It may seem ambitious to suggest the young Dutchman as an immediate replacement for the Blues legend - but Van Ginkel himself does not deem it beyond him.

A month ago, the midfielder spoke of the advantage Lampard's exits presents him, targeting a stay at Stamford Bridge as opposed to a loan move away from the side. Mourinho thought the 21-year-old to be good enough to keep at the club last season, so his chances may be even higher a year on - especially considering the fact the the youngster has also spoken of the faith his manager has in him.

Of course, Nemanja Matic has his place in Chelsea's midfield nailed down, while the Blues also have Ramires and Jon Obi Mikel at their disposal - but both have been linked with exits this summer. Cesc Fabregas, too, can play in a midfield two, though his creativity may be better suited as a no.10.

Van Ginkel, however, now has a big chance to show his ability, to prove that he is Lampard's long-term replacement in West London.

By that reckoning, the Dutchman could become somewhat of an unsung hero for Chelsea. The names of fans' lips right now are Diego Costa, Fabregas, Eden Hazard, potential recruit Tiago and the like. Van Ginkel hasn't been talked about much.

But with huge potential and what looks like huge perseverance, too, the midfielder could be as vital as anyone at Stamford Bridge, be that as a regular starter or even just a figure to stand in for 27-year-olds Ramires and Mikel during an injury crisis.

Leaving Chelsea on loan this term could still be a possibility - but all that would mean is that Van Ginkel would simply make his mark a season later.

When Mourinho came to the club, he decided who he wanted (Matic) and who he didn't (Kevin De Bruyne). Van Ginkel was one of those who stayed. This coming season, we could see just why.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch