Frank Lampard was full of enthusiasm following Chelsea’s win over Barcelona in Japan and reserved special praise for Mateo Kovacic and goalscorer Tammy Abraham’s performances.
Lampard oversaw a 2-1 win for the Blues, with Abraham and Ross Barkley finding the scoresheet before Ivan Rakitic’s late consolation goal. The win brought to an end our time in Japan, and Lampard was in positive mood after the game as he reflected on the tour.
‘I’m very happy,’ he said. ‘It’s been good on pitch and off pitch. Especially today, I saw a lot of signs from the work we have done which is very good. There is more work to do but it’s been a good trip.
‘It is always great to come to Japan and [see] the welcome we receive. For the club that’s important and it’s been nice for us.
‘What I’ve learnt about the players is they’re a good strong group. They’ve done everything asked of them and more, so they deservedly now get a couple of days off.
‘We’ve had two very competitive games here in humidity and difficult conditions. It’s a good test for the players and the tour has helped us.
‘We’re in a process to be fit and ready for Manchester United, our first game. The clock runs down quickly so the players have to keep working. Collectively we have to work on elements of the team I want to implement.’
Lampard spoke about Mateo Kovacic, who excelled against Barcelona
‘I thought he was outstanding in the first half. I really liked Kovacic last season, I watched Chelsea a lot. I saw lots in his game I really liked and what I’ve found here on this tour from the first day he turned up is a hungry attitude, desire to work and an incredible talent on the ball and I want to work with him and help him improve.
‘I think there’s so much talent there and I really like him. I’m really pleased, we know we’ve got numbers in midfield areas but I can’t help but be excited by some of the elements in his performance today and I think there’s even more to come.’
He discussed Tammy Abraham, who netted his first goal for Chelsea’s senior team
‘I’m very happy this evening. Tammy is a goalscorer, hungry for goals, constantly wanting to score. I saw that in the Championship last season, he’s proven that and now it’s his time to prove it at Chelsea. Confidence is big for goalscorers so to get his goal will put him in good stead.
‘Olivier Giroud came on and did very well as well. He shoed his different style and attributes he brings, and the same for Batshuayi. There’s competition. People keep talking a lot about it and they all need to rise to the competition and show they can be strikers for Chelsea. I’ve got full confidence in them and it’s great for Tammy.’
Lampard was also asked about N’Golo Kante, who returned to London at the weekend to work on his knee injury
‘For someone in their rehab it’s much more beneficial to be at Cobham with the facilities we have there. It’s not a big backwards step we’ve taken. Hopefully when we get back and are training towards the weekend, he’ll be in a position to pretty much join in with us.
‘It was just the best possible work for him to get his individual work so I’m hopeful he’s ready for the start of the season. Maybe a break for someone who has played so many games over the past few years at such a level, it may not be the worst.’