Frank Lampard believes new Chelsea signing Alvaro Morata can make a huge impression in the Champions League this season, something Diego Costa failed to do.
The summer arrival from Real Madrid has already scored three times and laid on another two assists after making a flying start to life in the Premier League.
But Lampard says the young Spaniard’s real test will come in the Champions League, a stage which Costa – who only netted twice in Europe for the Blues – never delivered on.
Writing in his column for the Evening Standard, Lampard backed Morata to succeed where Costa failed: ‘Morata will be in his element on this stage.
‘With players of Morata’s ability, performing in the Champions League is what it’s all about. It’s imperative.
‘I’m not saying his Chelsea career will be solely judged on the Champions League but it will play a part in what legacy he builds at Stamford Bridge.
‘At the highest level you need your striker scoring goals.
‘Surprisingly Diego Costa scored only twice in this tournament for Chelsea, although he did get eight goals for Atletico Madrid during their run to the final in 2013-14.’
Lampard believes Morata has already displayed his competitiveness and physicality in the Premier League, and has filled the void following Costa’s exile.
He continued: ‘I was happy when Chelsea signed him. He has big shoes to fill because Costa was a huge personality in the dressing room and a key player.
‘The circumstances surrounding Costa at the moment makes Morata’s arrival even more of a talking point.
‘People were always going to ask “is he going to be as strong as Costa? Are we going to see as much of him?” So the way he has started, with three goals in four League matches, is a credit to him.’
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A new face and the return of an old friend are on David Luiz’s mind ahead of the start of our European campaign tonight.
It is 18 months since we last played in the Champions League, and more than twice that length of time since David Luiz last put on a Chelsea shirt in the competition he so memorably helped us win in 2012.
Now he is excited about not only the return of continental competition but also a busier schedule more generally. Tonight’s game is the second of seven we play in three weeks.
‘It’s a nice month,’ the Brazilian tells the official Chelsea website.
‘For me the best month is when you can play many, many fantastic games. One day you will finish playing so you have to enjoy getting these opportunities. You have to try your best, to give everything you have. In football I think for me the best games to play are the big games.
‘We had that in the Premier League last season but not in the Champions League. In Europe it’s always good. You play different cultures, different countries, it’s a very high level and there are many fantastic players and clubs.
‘It’s always special to be at Stamford Bridge and when you have a big European game it’s also special. We are looking forward to it.’
The 30-year-old says the response to our opening-day setback against Burnley has been ‘amazing’, and he wants to be able to continue that positive momentum tonight when Qarabag come to west London.
The famous anthem and the starry ball will be nothing new for David Luiz because of his long association with the competition from his time in the capitals of Portugal, England and France.
What will be different are many of the players he will now be lining up alongside in Europe, including a man that anyone that follows the Brazilian on social media will know he is already very friendly with: Tiemoue Bakayoko, himself a Champions League semi-finalist last season.
‘I know him from playing against him in the past, I knew some of his friends from before so that’s why we have a great relationship. We speak French together. It’s also good for me to keep learning and practising French!
‘He’s a great guy, a great person, great player. He’s a fantastic talent and for sure he’s going to give a lot of happiness to all the supporters of Chelsea.