Why Joao Moutinho Is the Natural Heir to Frank Lampard at Chelsea

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Why Joao Moutinho Is the Natural Heir to Frank Lampard at Chelsea

With Frank Lampard leaving Chelsea in the summer (via The Guardian), the club will be forced to spend big bucks on a replacement. Marouane Fellaini has been touted, but that's not a natural fit in the Blues' midfield considering the personnel already in place.

Who, then, in world football, can come in as an almost ready-made replacement for "Super Frank?"

The answer is no one.

No one in world football comes close to what he's achieved in this particular manner, but the closest player to him is FC Porto's Joao Moutinho, and that's why he is the natural heir to the Englishman's throne with regard to ability, positional sense and playing style.

 

Lampard—influence from an early age

Frank has been the conductor in Chelsea's midfield for over a decade, taking up the mantle from an early age after transferring from West Ham in 2001.

He's shown incredible mental toughness to become the go-tyo guy for his teammates over 50 times a season and became a vantage point for others to reach.

No other central midfielder has come close to his goalscoring tallies in the English Premier League as he perfected the art of the late arrival in the box, scoring just shy of 200 goals during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

At the age of 34, he's still fit and ready for every game, showing physical prowess to shuttle up and down the field whilst simultaneously barking out orders to his teammates.

To replace Lampard, you need to become a presence in every area of the pitch, both physically and verbally.

How do you measure up to that?

 

Moutinho—the next best bet

It's highly unlikely Chelsea will look to their youth ranks to replace Lampard despite there being a few options available if they wanted to invest the time. Josh McEachran would be the obvious candidate, but a poor loan spell at Swansea set him back 12 months in development.

There are several explosive box-to-box types at Juventus that measure up to Lampard quite well, too, but would Kwadwo Asamoah, Mauricio Isla, Arturo Vidal or Claudio Marchisio fancy a move to Stamford Bridge?

Probably not, given the strength of the Old Lady right now.

So you look further afield, and you centre on Andre Villas-Boas' long-term target, Joao Moutinho.

He was made vice-captain of Sporting at the tender age of 19 and became captain of his boyhood club before leaving for FC Porto.

HIs all-action performances throughout his career—and especially for Portugal—have earned him a reputation for being a hard worker who's committed to the cause.

Having played in an anchor role, briefly out wide and also behind the striker as a No. 10, he has an excellent feel for the game in all areas of midfield and looks confident in a box-to-box role.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Euro 2012 saw Moutinho at his combative finest, working alongside the tireless Raul Meireles to pass, move, tackle and chase down some of Europe's finest attackers. Spain struggled to find any room to play against their Iberian rivals in the semifinal, and that's partly down to a superlative display from Paulo Bento's midfield.

Moutinho is the leader, the presence and midfield general Lampard is: The only thing missing is the goal return.

 

Conclusion

Don't be fooled into thinking Roman Abramovich can buy another Frank Lampard—the bad news for Chelsea fans to reluctantly swallow is that he is irreplaceable.

Lampard has hashed out a role in the Blues midfield that is unique to his skill set, which is why they miss him so much when he's not on the field—the team is accustomed to him being there, carrying out his own unique set of tasks and movements.

Benitez, or whoever's in charge come the time a decision is made, has two choices. Revamp how the midfield works or recruit someone who can grow into the hole Lampard leaves.

Moutinho is both the closest fit and most realistic purchase.

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