A former Blue believes the England international is capable of following in his manager’s footsteps at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea’s Ross Barkley has been described as a “top, top player” by Joe Cole, who thinks the midfielder can help drive the club towards silverware in the same way Frank Lampard did in his heyday.
After overcoming a slow start to the 2019-20 campaign amid injury issues, Barkley has emerged as a key figure in the Blues’ starting line-up as they chase down a top-four finish in the Premier League.
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The 26-year-old featured in seven of Chelsea’s last eight games before the season was called to a temporary halt due to the coronavirus outbreak, with his most impressive display coming in a 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over Liverpool on March 3.
Lampard has been rewarded for placing his faith in Barkley, who appears to have rediscovered his best form while operating in a three-man midfield alongside the likes of Billy Gilmour, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount.
Cole has expressed his belief that Barkley has all the attributes to emulate the current Chelsea manager’s achievements at Stamford Bridge, while tipping him to remain at the club for “many, many years”.
“Ross has improved. He is a top player. I’m a big fan of Ross Barkley. Always have been,” the ex-Blues winger told the Daily Star .
“He’s been a bit less spoken about because of Jack Grealish and James Maddison and Mason Mount. But he’s done a terrific job at Chelsea.
“The last two games, against Liverpool and Everton, he was brilliant. Absolutely fantastic.
“I’ve always thought he was a top player and I think he’ll be at Chelsea for many, many years.
“Now the challenge for Ross is can he keep doing that, can he be that player who drives Chelsea on to win trophies, like his manager was? I think he can.”
Cole went on to discuss comparisons between himself and Barkley, opening up on how he developed under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship before backing the England international to maintain his own upward trajectory in the coming seasons.
“I’m pleased if people can see similarities between him and me because I’m a big fan. I think I just developed at Chelsea,” said Cole.
“It wasn’t just Jose. He’s a fantastic manager. But I was playing with better players. More expectation. I grew into my body a bit. And winning trophies breeds confidence.
“I like everything about Ross. Technically, he’s spot on. The mental aspect of the game, he’s getting better and better. Tactically he is improving all the time.
“I just think he’s a top, top player for Chelsea and England. As football evolves, players like him are getting more and more valued. He’s a fantastic player.”
Chelsea boast a three-point lead over their rivals in the race for the final Champions League after 29 fixtures, with Lampard taking in his first season as a Premier League manager.
A club legend has been able to maximise the output of the squad at his disposal without dipping into the transfer market, while bringing a number of academy stars through to the first-team fold.
“I can understand people didn’t think he had much experience at the start of the job but I was never in any doubt he’d be a top manager,” Cole said of Lampard’s credentials.
“I think he’s a smart guy, Frank. There’s no doubt in my mind he will go on to be one of the best managers we’ve ever produced. He’s so driven.
“Chelsea must be absolutely buzzing at what he’s done for the club. The club’s cohesive, it’s working well. Systems are in place. They’re performing well.
“He’s blooded some young players and put some value on the bottom line of the club. I think he’s done a tremendous job.”