Frank Lampard may have engineered an historic Youth Revolution™ at Chelsea Football Club, as he promised, but the players he’s relied on the most throughout the season have been the veteran leaders of the team.
Six of the seven most used players on the team are 25 or over, including Willian, who’s the fourth oldest player in the team at 31. (And the fifth most oldest, César Azpilicueta, leads the team in minutes, by quite some margin.)
The future of course belongs to the kids, and while both Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero signed one-year extensions to continue serving as backups, Willian and Pedro have more prominent futures in mind yet for themselves. But they both agreed temporary extensions this week to stay with the club through the actual end of the season rather than just the previous June 30 contract expiration date.
Lampard couldn’t be happier with that development, especially as it pertains to Willian, whom he’s praised throughout the season for quality contributions on the pitch and quiet leadership off of it. After all, he’s not managing by Twitter.
“If you were to view social media, you’d never pick a team, you’d change it every two seconds. And I suppose that’s the beauty of football in one way, that everyone has opinions.
“My opinion, fortunately, is the important one here at the moment, at the club. And I get to see what the players are like, how they train day to day, so when you make a selection people might comment on from the outside, they don’t see what you see.
“And I have a huge value on training, how players behave and work in training in the week. I knew Willian had it as a player because I’ve played with him. I think we’ve all seen it on the pitch this year, his work ethic off the ball, his creation and his work on the ball, and you saw it against Aston Villa as well.
“So I think, generally, Chelsea fans hold him in real high regard. It’s difficult in the modern day to take a view on what social media says from all over the world.”
Willian’s seven, trophy-filled years at Chelsea should most certainly be appreciated and praised, even if he largely took on supporting roles behind big players and characters like Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, José Mourinho, and so on. Earlier this season, he became just the 37th player in club history, and only the 8th from overseas, with 300 appearances, and while he never lived up to some people’s imaginations and goal-scoring expectations, his record under a multitude of coaches at both club and national team level speaks for itself.
It sounds like Lampard would sure like him to stay a bit longer, even, which has also been mentioned several times throughout the season.
“He’s been incredible in terms of that the younger players look up to him. He’s played every level, and at a high level himself throughout.
“He has a great character about him and it’s good, it’s important when you have a lot of young players that they have people to look up to from within. He’s not a shouter and a screamer, but he certainly works by example in how he is daily, so yes, I’m very thankful for having him in the squad this year.”
“I think people who are in the club know the value of him, and no matter what happens at the end of the season, he’s been a fantastic servant for the club.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
If this is to be the last month of Willian’s brilli-an Chelsea career, let’s make it extra memorable!