Frank Lampard aimed a sly dig at Jose Mourinho after insisting he will stand by Chelsea’s talented youngsters rather than cast them aside.
With Chelsea under a transfer embargo when Lampard took over, he was forced to promote from within, handing chances to the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.
The trio have seized their opportunities with a string of fine displays that have led to call-ups to the England squad.
And even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport have reduced Chelsea’s sanction, enabling them to buy again in the January window, Lampard insists he will not repeat mistakes made by Mourinho and allow young players to move on and become world class elsewhere.
Mourinho sold Kevin De Bruyne to Wolfsburg during his second spell in charge at Chelsea, while he barely played Mohamed Salah before sending him out on loan to Fiorentina and then Roma.
Both men are now established as among the best players in the world due to their exploits with Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively.
Lampard said: “I believe in the young players.
“I thought Mason Mount’s performance [during the 2-0 win at Tottenham on Sunday], not just to isolate Mason as I thought Tammy was fantastic and Tomori was too, but his performance was a great example of why you want to stick with and have patience with these young players because he is a young boy and there will be moments where the game will be difficult for him and he will learn.
“And then there will be games like the other day when you can see the player that he is.
“If we are not patient and stick with the players we might be in a situation before where absolutely top world-class players at this minute have been at Chelsea when they were 20 or 21 and managers maybe did not stick with them so much then.
“I am in a position where I will stick with them.”
Lampard’s criticism of Mourinho forms part of a very public ongoing spat started by the Portuguese after he accused Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger of playacting to get Son Heung-min sent off during the weekend game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.