Ross Barkley has revealed Chelsea boss Frank Lampard wants him to envisage being a striker as he seeks to play an important role.
The 25-year-old England midfielder is about to enter a second full season at Stamford Bridge having initially joined in January 2018.
Since making that switch from boyhood club Everton, the Liverpudlian has found it hard to establish a regular starting berth under Antonio Conte and then Maurizio Sarri.
However, ahead of Lampard’s inaugural managerial campaign at the club where he enjoyed unprecedented success during an illustrious playing career, Barkley has featured prominently.
Nominally a central midfielder, he’s been deployed nearer to Chelsea’s forward line in pre-season, with Lampard expecting big things from him. Having struck five times in his 52 official appearances for The Blues to date; Lampard – the club’s record scorer despite being a midfielder himself – has imparted some wisdom which Barkley has taken onboard.
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“He’s been saying, ‘Express yourself on the pitch, take risks, don’t be too safe, shoot, try and create chances’,” he said.
“It is something I can do and it’s what he’s been putting across to me in training and the pre-season games. You don’t want to play in your shell, you want to be off-the-cuff sometimes to take chances and make something happen.
“That’s what players like myself, Mason and Ruben, when he’s back, want to express on the pitch. You can’t be too worried if you take a risk and whether it’s not going to come off. You have to try to make things happen. I’m looking forward to taking my chances.’
“He was one of my idols as a kid. I was always watching Match of the Day and you saw him every week scoring goals.
“Now he is our manager and it is brilliant for all the players. He’s a legend of the game — the highest-scoring midfielder in Premier League history and so we are going to take all he has to give us. He will help all the midfielders.
“I’ve been playing a bit further forward. He’s told me to think like a striker, especially as a No 10, but to help out defensively and work hard off the ball.”
Could we see Barkley playing an important role for Chelsea in 2019/20? Five key things to know…
- Barkley has so far scored twice and created a further goal in four pre-season appearances for Chelsea.
- New boss Frank Lampard has often deployed him close to the Blues forward line.
- Barkley says Lampard wants him to adopt a ‘striker’s mentality’ in this role.
- Since joining from boyhood club Everton in January 2018, he’s gone to make 52 appearances.
- Barkley has, to date, struck five goals in a Chelsea shirt as he seeks to hold a regular starting berth under Lampard.