Jose Mourinho Wrong to Think Frank Lampard Can Fill Andrea Pirlo Role

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Jose Mourinho Wrong to Think Frank Lampard Can Fill Andrea Pirlo Role
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Frank Lampard has been many things throughout his 12-year Chelsea career, but the next Andrea Pirlo? Let's not get carried away with ourselves.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper this week, Jose Mourinho outlined his desire to transform Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer from his box-to-box habits into a more cultured player who will dictate games for the Blues.

Of course Frank can become that [a Pirlo-esque player]. He has to adapt and learn every day how to play with this 'new body'. A player can still learn new skills at his age, for sure.

I'm 50 and have been a manager since 2000, and I'm learning every day, every match, with every experience. You can always learn new skills, especially if the player has an open mind like he does.

Only Lampard's attributes do not lend themselves to what Pirlo brings to Juventus and Italy. It's not a criticism, just a fact. The pair are different players and if anything, were they in the same team, they would make an ideal midfield partnership.

Englishman Lampard has had few peers when it comes to scoring goals and influencing games from the middle, but he's a player who has built his game around being more reactive than someone such as a Pirlo, who is somewhat more proactive in his approach.

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Sitting deeper, Pirlo has made a career of dominating games, controlling the pace and bringing his teammates into the action. It's been rather the opposite for Lampard.

He's won Chelsea matches, brought them back from the brink at times and even inspired the Blues to lift silverware. Those moments of brilliance have come with those around him stretching the game, however, with Lampard finding space and exploiting it by either scoring or teeing up a teammate. That's his talent.

At 35, it's no secret he needs to adapt and refine his qualities, but it's much too late for Mourinho to be hoping he can impose himself the way Pirlo has.

The Italian is a pass master, completing a high number of passes in any game. He helps his team retain possession and thus, controls the flow of a game which is fundamental to man commanding his area of the pitch.

His stats this season are impressive, making an average of 74.8 passes a game in his six Serie A outings, completing over 90 per cent. It's a stat that rivals other heavyweights in his position, such as Barcelona's Xavi (93.3 per cent success) and Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger (91.3 per cent success).

In contrast, Lampard has a success rate of 83.8 per cent, a stat not to be scoffed at, yet one that equally outlines his lacking the control of those elsewhere in Europe.

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In fact, Lampard's pass completion rate isn't even the best at Stamford Bridge, with Ramires making more passes on average this season (59.4), completing 87.7 per cent.

The point is, by attempting to transform Lampard into a player of Pirlo's qualities, it takes something else away from his game. His aging limbs may restrict what he can do every week, but he's a player who has long done his best work in the opposition's half.

It will take a lot longer than the four months he has had under Mourinho's tutelage to improve his capabilities, but at 35, it would be a waste.

Mourinho highlighted it himself in his interview with The Guardian—Lampard's days at the top are at a premium.

"In three or four years' time, if we don't have other Englishmen to replace this nucleus of players – when Lamps is 39, John is 36 – I will be very sad," he said.

In looking to the future of how he would like to see his squad developed, it wasn't a direct acknowledgement that retirement lays around the corner, but one that shows time is of the essence for Chelsea's No. 8.

Those "three or four year" Mourinho mentions are not on the horizon, they are all but around the corner. And they will be better served doing what Lampard does best, not wasting his time on becoming a new player.

*All stats from WhoScored.com

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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