Frank Lampard has invited Mason Mount to put aside his close friendship with Declan Rice and focus on “beating him in every battle” when Chelsea visit West Ham on Wednesday evening.
Lampard’s playing career began at West Ham and the Chelsea manager says that the abuse he received when he returned with a Chelsea shirt “definitely pushed me”, a motivational effect similar to what he got when meeting players particularly familiar.
“I think it stimulates you more, if you have a personal relationship either way – whether you’re the best friend or you don’t really like it,” said Lampard. “But you can either have the best of the games in that type of circumstance or you can focus too much on that relationship and have a not so good game.
“There is only one thing I will ask Mason … text him the night before the game, smile at him in the tunnel or whatever it is, but if and when they clash, he has tried to beat him every single battle that is possible And by perceiving the character of Declan Rice, they will have a mentality similar to that. “
Mount was one of two players who took off midway through Chelsea’s last game on Sunday in Leicester, and Ross Barkley, one of the players lined up, scored the only goal in a fifth consecutive win. But 21-year-old Mount has started nearly four of Chelsea’s 32 league games and, having distinguished himself in recent victories against Aston Villa and Manchester City, his place seems secure.
“Against Villa he was incredibly lively with the ball and gave us many options going forward, so the work ethic and the quality he showed against Manchester City were incredible, so he had two great performances in a week,” Lampard said. “It wasn’t a bad performance against Leicester, more in line with the team. I rely heavily on Mason; I did at Derby and Chelsea, and this decision does not affect my way of thinking for West Ham or to move forward. “
West Ham manager David Moyes said he wants to form a team around Rice after Aaron Cresswell has suggested that his teammate would reach “another level” if he joined a great club.
Chelsea are considering trying to sign Rice but Moyes sees the British international as a future West Ham captain and believes the 21-year-old still has a long way to go before being able to meet Cresswell’s predictions.
“If you think of the big players who have been to West Ham for the past 125 years, some extraordinary players,” said Moyes, “Declan Rice isn’t quite close to that level yet, so Declan has many improvements to make to that level, but he is a very, very good player.
“I had the opportunity to see many players at the highest levels, their qualities. Declan has many, many. My idea is to build West Ham around Declan Rice. I see Declan Rice as future captain. For many reasons I am looking forward to working with Declan and unless I am told something different or things change, it is a very important part of the club for me. “
West Ham may be without Sébastien Haller again, but Moyes seemed doubtful in asking Albian Ajeti to replace the striker, who lost in the 2-0 defeats by Wolves and Tottenham. Ajeti have yet to score from their £ 8m move from Basel last summer and have not been in evidence since it started when West Ham, who are out of the bottom three by goal difference, lost to West Brom in the FA Cup. in January.
“I think he had a chance against Newport [in the Carabao Cup]”Moyes said.” I only came in January and didn’t get a chance to see much. I played it in the West Brom game. You and I probably saw the same amount. Obviously I see more of him in training. But you had every chance to watch him like me in those games. “