Frank Lampard has backed Raheem Sterling to rediscover his peak form and believes ‘one of the best wingers in the world’ can make a positive influence on Chelsea’s season.
The west Londoners have had a torrid domestic season, failing to win any of their last four Premier League games, including a loss to Wolves on Saturday in what was Frank Lampard’s second coming the Blues dugout.
Chelsea are currently sitting in 11th place in the Premier League standings, 17 points adrift of the top four, and caretaker manager Lampard faces an uphill task in getting the Blues back on track to at least set-up a platform to build on next season.
The team will next fly to Madrid to face Champions League champions Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, with success in the competition currently their last chance for silverware, but that’s more of a pipedream than a possibility.
While many of Chelsea’s big-money transfers have flopped massively in the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella, England international Raheem Sterling remains a curious case.
The 28-year-old arrived at Stamford Bridge from Manchester City last summer for a fee close to £50 million, but after firing 131 goals in 339 games and lifting 10 major trophies for his former club, the 28-year-old has struggled to make significant impact for a Chelsea side in transition.
He has scored just seven goals and provided three assists in 29 appearances across all competitions.
He also had a rotten luck with hamstring trouble that ruled him out of games in January and March before making his first Premier League start in over a month in Lampard’s first game back, a defeat to Wolves.
Chelsea caretaker manager Lampard has now suggested Sterling will be an important part of his plans at the club, having often used the rapid wide-forward as a ‘reference’ to other wingers he has worked with in all of his previous coaching jobs.
The returning interim boss said: “I think he’s a fantastic player. He’s been one of the best wingers in the world for a long time, maybe in some people’s opinion, the best.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve referenced to young wingers when I was here previously at Chelsea, at Derby and Everton actually – watch Raheem Sterling and see why he scores 20 goals a season plus so I have the highest feeling for him in that sense.
“I’ve spoken to him a little bit in the last couple of days [and] we also have to get the right team structure to make it best for the players and then drive them, and of course I’ve only been here a couple of days, to get the best out of them so I’ll speak to Raheem more.
“I just think he’s a top player. Those things are always kind of like 50/50 for me – getting the right structure for the player and then the player themselves but Raheem has shown what a player he is.”
When quizzed on whether Sterling can step-up his levels for the trip to Madrid, Lampard continued: ‘Yeah possibly.
“I haven’t watched every Chelsea game this season, but he is certainly a player of a high level and a high confidence level. It won’t phase him.
“In fact, he’s risen to games like that in the past. That’s something we’ll obviously rely on. Some elements of the squad might be a bit younger; Raheem’s been there and done it.”