Eden Hazard believes former team-mate and current Chelsea boss Frank Lampard can go on to be one of the best managers in the world.
There were more than a few eyebrows raised when Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge to succeed Maurizio Sarri in the summer with just one season’s worth of managerial experience at Derby behind him.
His task was made all the harder because of the club’s transfer ban for breaking rules over the signing of foreign players under 18, meaning he had to make do with the players he had.
Lampard, though, has turned a potentially difficult situation into a positive by utilising a number of the club’s young players such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
All three players have flourished under Lampard’s stewardship, earning a call-up to the full England squad, while Abraham is second in the Premier League scoring charts with 10 goals in 12 appearances.
The Blues have lost just one of their last 11 games in all competitions and beat Crystal Palace 2-0 last time out to climb above champions Manchester City and into third, raising hopes of a title challenge.
Hazard had already left Chelsea for Real Madrid by the time Lampard was appointed in July, but he knows the former England midfielder well having played alongside him in west London for two seasons.
The 28-year-old, who scored twice for Belgium in their 4-1 win over Russia in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, believes their success under Lampard is no fluke.
“I wasn’t surprised about Frank Lampard,” he told reporters. “I know Frank as a player, not a manager, but he is a great guy.
“He has shown already in four months that he can be one of the best managers in the world.
“The good thing is they are playing with young English players. They are lucky to have young players with quality.
“Maybe with two or three more they would be first in the Premier League.
“When I saw them play it was nice to see them all play together. I still have friends there are want them to do well.”
Next up for Lampard’s Chelsea after the international break is a clash with champions City at Etihad Stadium on November 23.