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Monday, January 18, 2021

Frank Lampard’s next step for Chelsea is to copy Borussia Dortmund with or without Jadon Sancho

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At regular points this season Frank Lampard has been asked about the long-term future at Chelsea.

On every single occasion the head coach has replied by stressing the need for gradual progress and why this is a long-term process rather than an instant transformation.

Those expecting overnight success at Stamford Bridge must learn patience because, to borrow one of Lampard’s favourite phrases, the short-term ambition is “bridging the gap.”

In simple terms, it would be silly to expect Chelsea to finish above Liverpool or Manchester City in 2020-21 considering the buffer that exists between them in the current standings.

Which brings us to last night’s big game in Germany and why, in the short-term, Borussia Dortmund are what Lampard’s young team should aspire to be.

Financially, of course, there is no comparison between the two. One club regularly needs to sell its best players off; the other is under no financial pressure when it comes to personnel.

But in terms of the football, hear this argument out.

Yes, Dortmund may have lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich and waved goodbye to their title hopes yesterday but if you offered Chelsea a realistic title shot with seven games remaining next season they would bite your hand off because it would be a clear step in the right direction.

Already there are plenty of similarities between Dortmund and Chelsea. Both are vibrant and youthful, seeking to implement a rapid and fluid attacking game plan that can, on occasion, lead to problems at the defensive end.

For supporters it is thrilling and nerve-wracking. The Chelsea fans watching yesterday evening will have recognised elements of their own team as Dortmund played the better football but lacked the killer instinct to really damage Bayern.

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That has been a significant part of story of this season for Lampard: too often his team’s dominance has not translated into results.

Dortmund are just further along the path, even if their challenge in unseating Bayern is on a different level to any of the Premier League’s chasing pack considering the Bavarians are chasing an eighth straight title.

There could still be a common denominator called Jadon Sancho, should Chelsea be willing to cough up the eye-watering sums required for the Londoner to depart Germany’s industrial heartland.

But in this era of projects and processes, emulating Dortmund next season would be a clear sign of Chelsea bridging that gap. Then, of course, the next target would be to become more like Bayern, who so ruthlessly skewered the Blues at the Bridge in February.

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