Frank Lampard has urged his Chelsea players to express their full personalities to fast-track his Stamford Bridge revolution.
New recruit Hakim Ziyech has never hidden his feelings and this week pledged to be true to his outspoken nature, and Blues boss Lampard insisted he welcomes such a bold approach.
Edouard Mendy has explained too how a year without a club and on the dole has helped shape his career, with the Senegal goalkeeper not shy to detail his own personal challenges.
And Lampard insisted that open and forthright approach is exactly what he wants as he continues his west London rebuild.
Asked if strong personalities off the pitch can help players thrive on it, Lampard replied: “Yes, I certainly think it can help.
“I certainly want to help grow the ideas of leaders within the group, personalities within the group.
“Within the course of long, difficult seasons where we play so many games there will be moments when you rely on them to help you in tough times, and also to push the good times along, and to try and improve every day.
“I don’t think you can get on in elite sport, in any elite team sport, with people without any personality and character in your team.
“I have seen that with Hakim and I have seen it in Edou Mendy as soon as they walked through the door.
“Hakim has confidence about him and his fitness is coming on individually and he still needs time to get up his match fitness now his knee injury has cleared up.
“Both of those will be great additions on that front and I encourage personality and communication between players. We need more of that.”
Senegal stopper Mendy has already forced his way to number-one status at Stamford Bridge, following his £20million transfer from Rennes last month.
The 28-year-old was always likely to start Saturday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United, but will be nailed-on now that Kepa Arrizabalaga has been ruled out with a shoulder problem.
Former Ajax winger Ziyech has made two replacement appearances after finally beating a troublesome knee issue, and Lampard admitted the Covid-secure bubble has added extra layers of difficult to his recover.
“It is very difficult because we have a bubble here at Cobham so we can’t play against the Under-23s or bring across the kids to replicate 11 versus 11 games on big-side pitches.
“You generally want people to be working when you are not playing for five or six months off the back of an injury. So we missed that, he’s missed that.
“We have to try and find the right way to give Hakim minutes in the right way and others in the squad.
“A few of our new signings came in with certain issues and try and get that as quickly as we can. It has been challenging.”
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