Chelsea have found their Kevin De Bruyne as Frank Lampard unlocks midfielder’s true potential
Last season under Maurizio Sarri, Mateo Kovacic was presented as a relatively beige footballer.
The Croatian was regularly subbed on or off for Ross Barkley after 60 minutes, and didn’t appear to have any notable unique traits beyond skills that are widely considered as normal.
This season, however, he appears reborn under Frank Lampard.
The current Chelsea boss seems to have provided the 25 year-old with a platform from which to perform and showcase his natural game.
All players are different. Lampard, for example, was a goal-scoring central midfielder, whereas Claude Makelele’s game was largely dedicated to defensive happenings.
Kovacic, according to the underlying numbers beneath the surface, shows up as a highly capable ball-carrier in the centre of the park.
The Croatian international, by contrast, appears comfortable doing both after being given the license to do so by Lampard.
Over 200 central midfielders have accumulated over 1,000 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues this season, with Kovacic showing up impressively for dribbles completed combined with progressive carries per 90, shown below.
Evidently, the only player in England whose numbers can rival Kovacic’s is Kevin De Bruyne, who is carrying the ball around the same amount, but is averaging almost one more dribble per 90.
Ultimately, Kovacic is quite a rare talent. His skills are very suited to the modern game, as he’s unfazed when pressurised and he’s able to bring his team to the final third without purely relying on passing.
Under Lampard’s leadership, Kovacic is now portraying himself to be much more intriguing than many had initially thought.
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