'Brilliant for me': Frank Lampard says he loved coaching £32m player that Chelsea sold last year

Frank Lampard revealed that Willian was a pleasure to work with whilst the two were still under the Stamford Bridge umbrella.

During a very honest interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, Lampard highlighted the Brazilian as one of the players he most appreciated coaching.

A Brazilian goodbye

England’s iconic midfielder managed Willian for 16 months before he crossed the controversial capital city divide to join Arsenal last August.

Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

He moved to the Emirates on a three-year agreement with a bumper pay rise, following the expiration of his Chelsea contract.

The Blues did want to keep hold of their frizzy-haired flying forward, but were not prepared to match the treasure chest their London rivals were offering.

In hindsight, the 33-year-old may have wished he took up the offer from his former employers.

After just one, miserable season at Arsenal, Willian left the club by mutual consent, with two years remaining on the lucrative deal he signed up for.

From hero to Villian

Unfortunately for the attacker, this disastrous stint in red and white clouded his excellent tenure in Blue.

Photo by Visionhaus

He won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and Europa League with Chelsea.

During his final campaign with the current Champions League holders, Willian scored 11 goals and assisted a further nine in 47 appearances for Lampard.

Only Mason Mount and Cesar Azpilicueta played more times that term for the now-departed Blues boss.

“I tried to make a few little adjustments to A, the fitness levels and the mindset of how we want to go, and B, some tactical things,” said Lampard about taking over the job from Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

“I think in the first year we did pretty well with it. Some of that was maybe us hopefully as staff. But other parts of that were Tammy Abraham coming in, Mason Mount coming into the team.

“People like Willian, who was a bit polarised by Chelsea fans in a way but he was brilliant for me there because I knew that his natural attributes, when you get him really fit and he feels like he’s the main man, he’ll be jumping from one side (to the other).”

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Lampard and Willian also shared a dressing room as players in 2013/14, following the latter’s £32m (Guardian) transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala.

They featured together on 27 occasions and only lost four matches.

A surprising match made in heaven, clearly.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.