Frank Lampard has admitted it is impossible for Chelsea to replace Eden Hazard, but urged the club’s next generation to prove they can still deliver success by winning the Uefa Super Cup on Wednesday night.
The Blues face European champions Liverpool here in Turkey in their first major final since the Belgian playmaker departed for Real Madrid in June for a fee worth up to £130million.
Hazard’s last outing for Chelsea was a starring role in their Europa League Final victory over Arsenal in May and Lampard, who spent two seasons alongside the 28-year-old as team-mates before joining Manchester City on loan in August 2014, said: “I was a huge fan of Eden Hazard. I played with him.
“For me, clearly, one of the best players in world football. And last season, but not just last season, over his time at Chelsea, he was the most productive player in the team in terms of assists and goals. And [he was] a leader.
“So, you cannot replace him individually. It is pretty much impossible because of the high, high level that he is at now in his career.
“But, the good news for us, and we must stay calm and be patient with this, is that we have a group of players — some younger players, some experienced players — that now have the opportunity to show that, collectively and individually, they can step up.
“Because, yes, we’re missing a huge amount of assists and goals, that’s clear, but the answer is, as a team, we have to find a way to carry on.
“A football club like Chelsea will always carry on. Eden Hazard, John Terry, Didier Drogba et cetera, players move on and then it’s down to the next players, the next manager.
“That’s our big challenge now, to say good luck to Eden Hazard and to carry on as Chelsea.”
Willian will be named among the substitutes as he looks to recover from a knee problem which forced him to miss the Copa America Final with Brazil, while Antonio Rudiger is also a doubt due to a cartilage problem.
Chelsea have won the Super Cup once before, beating Real Madrid 1-0 in 1998, but will start their fourth appearance as outsiders against Liverpool, who previously lifted the trophy in 1977, 2001 and 2005.
Lampard added: “I’m optimistic because I believe in the players and I believe in the fact that we’re here in the final because we deserve to be. That’s the achievement of the players and the club last year, not myself, but I’m very proud to be here managing the team.
“I’m also very understanding of the quality of the opposition, a team that deservedly won the Champions League, have a fantastic manager and group of players.
“So, we know it’s going to be a test, but I believe in my players. If we can play to our maximum, then we can win the match.”