Chelsea’s £9m signing of 20-year-old Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel shows just how committed the club are to their movement towards youth and towards playing stylish, quick paced, winning football. The signing of Van Ginkel has generally been reported as Chelsea signing who they hope to be their next Frank Lampard.
This comparison is spot on, so it seems a perfect time to analyse exactly why Chelsea think they have signed their long term successor to Frank Lampard. Jose Mourinho personally persuaded van Ginkel to come to Chelsea on the guarantee that he would see significant first team football sooner rather than later.
With Frank Lampard now 35 and with only a one year contract, in all likelihood Chelsea will be looking to van Ginkel to be their main goal scoring midfielder from 2014/15 onwards. So why is the young Dutchman being talked of as the new Frank Lampard and can he live up to the billing?
Much of this will depend on exactly how Jose Mourinho sets Chelsea up tactically. If he reverts back to the 433 system that he played before going to Real Madrid, then van Ginkel will absolutely have license to burst forward from midfield to get goals, exactly as Lampard did in the Chelsea-Mourinho years. This would see Mata and Hazard flanking either Lukaku or Schurrle, or possibly a new striker, in a front three with the drive and goals of van Ginkel combined with the elegant passing and footballing intelligence of Oscar and the industry of Ramires in a midfield three that possesses many of the same qualities as the Makelele, Essien, Lampard trio that was so dominant between 2004-06.
Van Ginkel cuts a similarly striking presence as Lampard on the field, standing at 6’1. He has the kind of frame that could hold a little more muscle, and in the same way as United did with David de Gea, Chelsea will need to bulk him up a bit so that he can withstand the rigours of the Premier League. Once he has done that, he will have the strength and power that is easily identifiable with Lampard’s game.
Another physical trait that the two share is superb physical fitness. For all the jokes about Lampard carrying a bit of timber in his younger years, he’s never had problems with injuries. Sure, the odd one here or there, but he’s pretty much been bullet proof in his career, at one point playing 164 consecutive games for the club.
Van Ginkel seems to have a similarly sturdy and athletic body. He has played 28, 38 and 41 games in three seasons including an initial easing in period and has not suffered muscular injuries. van Ginkel seems to have the make up to give him Lampard like reliability, and that is very important.
Lampard is most associated with his goal output and van Ginkel is showing signs of similar production in front of goal. He has scored 5, 6 and 12 goals in three campaigns, an upward curve which is very similar to Lampard’s in his younger years. In fact, van Ginkel already has more goals in club football than Lampard had at the same age, but in his first three years as a first team regular between age 20 and 22, Lampard got 10, 9 and 14 goals.
If you take Lampard’s 10 and van Ginkel’s 12 as the start point, van Ginkel is showing every sign of having the ability to score goals like Lampard. van Ginkel scores goals in the same way that Lampard did at the peak of his career which saw 10 successive seasons in which he reached double figures. He has those unteachable traits; timing and positioning.
Van Ginkel scores goals by arriving in dangerous areas unnoticed and with impeccable timing. If the initial cross is dealt with and the ball comes to the edge of the box, he’s there to put it in. He’s providing the bursting run from midfield to be the cut back option or he’s getting himself in to the box looking for scraps to put in. He’s a cool and composed finisher.
Every trait that made Lampard such a consistent goalscorer. In fact, check this out, does the number 8 roaming forwards look more than a little like Lampard to you?
The video also demonstrates how similar van Ginkel’s passing style is to Frank Lampard’s. His ability to play precise balls in to space for forward runners or to pick the correct ball around the penalty box was one of Lampard’s hallmarks. His relationship with Didier Drogba is also similar to van Ginkel’s with Wilfried Bony at Vitesse. Van Ginkel possesses the intelligence to find the correct pass accurately and in a timely fashion, in the way that Lampard and Drogba used to connect.
Chelsea have bought Marco van Ginkel because he has everything he could possibly need to be a direct replacement for Frank Lampard. He has the physical tool set, the natural fitness, the intelligence and football instincts that made Lampard so special. He scores goals because of good technique, but even more so because of that unteachable trait; timing. Chelsea have got their new Frank Lampard for the next decade. He could be the final piece in an absurdly talented jigsaw.