Mateo Kovacic Credits Frank Lampard for Chelsea Goalscoring Form

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic celebrates after scoring the goal during the Champions League group H soccer match between Valencia and Chelsea at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic has said first-year manager Frank Lampard has helped him develop a goalscoring threat.

Kovacic netted in the Premier League clash with Everton on Saturday, although it wasn't enough to prevent his Blues from succumbing to a 3-1 loss. Prior to that, he netted in the 2-2 draw with Valencia in the UEFA Champions League the previous week; that was his first goal since the 2016-17 season while playing for Real Madrid.

The 41-year-old Lampard is regarded as one of the best goalscoring midfielders of his generation, and Kovacic has said his coach is helping him to make strides in that part of his game, per the Chelsea website:

"He has joked about that before but I also think he was being serious, because he knows I should score more goals. He has been preparing me to arrive late in the box to score more goals and it is just a consequence of training hard and preparing myself.

"I think mentally I have become stronger this season. Last season I was obsessed a little bit with not scoring because people were always asking when I was going to score. This summer I was just focused on preparing well and having a good season for the team and, as I said before, the goals are just consequences of training well and preparing myself."

Kovacic gave Chelsea hope in the game on Saturday, as he halved the deficit against the Toffees with this sweet effort from distance:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Perfect placement! Kovacic finds the bottom corner with an expertly timed volley! Game on 👊 https://t.co/HfS44e1VFg

Sky Sports Statto put the midfielder's goal drought in league games into some context:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Mateo Kovacic scores his 1️⃣st goal in 8️⃣2️⃣ League games, since for Real Madrid in Jan 2017 Most away goals in @premierleague this season 22 Man City 20 CHELSEA 17 Leicester https://t.co/DHieHVJlkq

While Kovacic appears to have found improved confidence in front of goal, overall he's kicked on as a player this term after making his loan move from Real permanent in the summer.

Under Lampard, the 25-year-old has cemented his place in the team as a key man. On the ball, the Croatia international is so slick, able to shimmy away from defenders with a change of pace and find his team-mates in dangerous areas with incisive passing.

As the EiF Soccer account noted, Kovacic is also a difficult man to take the ball off when in possession:

EiF @EiFSoccer

Mateo Kovacic is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining players to watch in world football. The Croatian is poetry in motion and taking the ball away from him is damn near impossible.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher praised his display in an otherwise underwhelming team performance at Goodison Park:

Jamie Carragher @Carra23

Kovacic has been brilliant for Chelsea! #EVECHE

With Lampard mainly utilising a 4-2-3-1 system this season, often there isn't a place for the three central midfielders Chelsea have. Jorginho was left on the bench on Saturday, with Kovacic picked to line up alongside N'Golo Kante.

It's to Kovacic's credit that he's managed to make himself almost undroppable with a string of high-class performances. Should he continue to add productivity to his game in the final third, Chelsea may well have a complete midfielder on their hands.