Chelsea’s ‘next Lampard’ leaves: What went wrong?

Emulating a club legend is an unenviable task and in most cases it takes quite a few potential incumbents before a fitting predecessor of the required standard can be found.

In Chelsea’s case, finding to fill the void left by a player of Frank Lampard’s influence, importance and ability was never going to be an easy job.

Over a number of years, before the retired England international finally left the West London club last summer, it was becoming apparent that the Blues would need to find an heir to the throne.

Although it has eventuated that the big-spending outfit have splurged more of Roman Abramovich’s money to find a central midfield pairing to win them the Premier League again, for a time it looked like a product of the club’s youth system may well be the man to fill Lampard’s boots.

Josh McEachran joined the Chelsea academy at the age of seven, moving through the youth ranks over nine years and was all of a sudden being spoken out as one of England’s brightest young prospects.

A future full international in waiting according to the scout reports, the Oxford-born midfielder started out representing his country at under-16 level and was involved in the England set up all the way through to the under-21 team.

[ffc-gal cat=”chelsea” no=”5″]

At his illustrious club, McEachran became the first player to play in the Champions League who was actually born after the competition was started in 1992, with the Chelsea midfielder getting involved in first-team affairs in the 2010-11 campaign.

Although the majority of the midfielder’s appearances came from the Stamford Bridge bench in that season, this fresh-faced teenager looked to be the real deal; a potential homegrown star ready to replace Lampard in the long run.

However, with a permanent move to modest Championship outfit Brentford being confirmed this week, it has clearly not gone to plan for McEachran – but what has gone wrong?

The 22-year-old did not make another Premier League appearance for the Blues after the 2010-11 campaign and instead has been plying his trade elsewhere on loan.

The first stint of potential first-team football elsewhere was offered by fellow Premier League side Swansea, but the midfielder was sparingly used by the South Wales outfit and has been sent elsewhere in the meantime.

Spells at Middlesbrough, Watford, Wigan and finally Vitesse Arnhem offered McEachran the chance to prove himself, but it is fair to say that he has not lived up to the superstar billing that was being mentioned in his early career.

Firstly, apart from his time on Teeside, McEachran has struggled to get consistent time on the pitch – arguably the most important element in a young player’s development.

Chelsea have evolved since the young Englishman came through the ranks and are now one of the top teams in world football and as such attract the best global talent. What chance does McEachran have with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic in Jose Mourinho’s squad?

For McEachran, a fresh start at Brentford could well reinvigorate his career, with regular first-team football the most important thing for the 22-year-old. However, all things considered, this bright talent will not be the man to replace Lampard at Chelsea, either now or in the future.