Frank Lampard believes that a big part of his success as a player was down to the competition provided from big-money signings like Michael Ballack and Michael Essien.
Now the Chelsea head coach is calling on his players to react in a similar way with the potential of a summer overhaul providing a reminder that there are no guarantees they will remain first-choice in their respective positions beyond this campaign.
Hakim Ziyech was this week confirmed as Chelsea’s first big name signing ahead of next season, arriving from Ajax for about £33million.
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Lampard considers the Morocco international’s arrival as a big motivator for his young stars and is expecting Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount in particular to reach another level between Monday’s game against Manchester United and the end of this campaign.
Asked what his reaction was as a player when the club routinely signed established midfielders every summer, Lampard said: “I think it’s a good thing. It needs to be reacted to in the right way. I certainly I felt it and as I felt it more and more I got better at accepting it.
“When I was younger I was probably a bit fearful of it. As I got older, I took on the challenge with a a bit more maturity and thought about what I could do to make sure I deserve to be in the team year-in year-out. Those challenges were good. Looking back, they were part of the process of making me.
“When you set someone that challenge they either go for it or back off away from it. I took that challenge on. The players now need to take that challenge on constantly. Squads look a little different now, there is more competition, bigger squads.
“There are more demands physically on players than there has ever been, so they need to understand they are part of a squad that wants to go somewhere and show they deserve to be right in the middle of it.”
Lampard said that…