Three players who can fill the Frank Lampard void

Carlos Henrique Casemiro would represent an interesting optionWith recent news circulating that Frank Lampard could be on his way out of the Chelsea and England line-ups, Andre Villas-Boas will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on potential replacements for the Stamford Bridge veteran.

Lampard answered the critics superbly, scoring a trademark hat-trick against Bolton, even at the ripe old age of 33. Since then, the midfielder has drawn comparisons to Ryan Giggs, saying that he would love to play for the Blues for years to come if possible. How possible this realistically is would be anyone’s guess, but that doesn’t change the fact that Romford-born Lampard will eventually wither, and a youthful successor will be essential.

Money has been said to be of little importance with Roman Abramovich over recent years, and the £110m spending of 2011 would back up such claims. As a result, it would be prudent for business if the Russian tycoon were to splurge on a proven youngster in the next two transfer windows before Financial Fair Play comes into effect. Of course, the club still has Ramires and Michael Essien in their ranks who can both feature splendidly as attacking midfielders, but with the injury-prone Essien spending more time on the bench than actually playing in recent years, a long-term Lampard alternative is needed.

Starting with the cheapest option, Carlos Henrique Casemiro is a 19 year-old midfielder playing for Sao Paulo. The Brazilian side are renowned for churning out countless players that have gone on to greater success in Europe. Some of the bigger names to have played in the white and red of Sao Paulo include Leonardo, Kaka and Luis Fabiano.

The youngster made a name for himself as a creative midfielder for the Brazilian U-20 side, however he quickly took the next leap as so many famous countrymen before him and won his first senior cap for the Brazilian national side earlier in 2011.

Casemiro was linked with a move to England over the summer, however a move never came to pass and the playmaker was left to mature a while longer in his native city. It now looks as if he is ready for another step in his career, and rather than just being an option for Andre Villas-Boas, Casemiro is actually said to be on the verge of a move to Stamford Bridge. Listing Zinedine Zidane as his idol, the starlet is certainly in the right mould for a Lampard replacement.

Our next choice will be slightly more known to the average fan. Paulo Henrique Ganso was linked with a move to just about every big European club over the summer, and for good reason.

Ganso is an out and out attacking midfielder who makes people like Santos teammate, Neymar, look good but gets along with the game nonetheless, while pitching in with a goal of his own every now and then. If that doesn’t scream out ‘Frank Lampard’, I’m not fully sure what does.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are apparently some of the clubs the Blues would have to compete with if they were to go in for the Brazilian international, but with the fees and incentives the club can offer, you would never count Chelsea out of the race for a South American superstar.

Ganso will certainly cost more than a tad more than his compatriot Casemiro, but you’re also getting more bang for your buck with this 22 year-old. Despite not scoring for the international side, Ganso has shown in his seven appearances for Brazil just how creative he can really be, putting goals on a plate for his strikers.

Santos were quoting a price-tag of around £30m for their playmaker over the summer, and is definitely the priciest midfielder on this list, but if this chap were ever to link up with international buddy Ramires at club level, the duo would have defences quaking in their boots.

Seeing as three most certainly is the magic number, why not cap off our trio with yet another Brazilian star. The oldest of the bunch, Hernanes represents the more experienced side of these three players, currently enjoying his second year playing with Serie A side, Lazio.

The 26 year-old has rapidly adapted to the top level of European football, and is now an integral part of the Lazio offence, as he demonstrated in Sunday’s Rome derby victory over bitter capital rivals, Roma.

Not in the least bit afraid of a shot, the midfielder has scored eleven goals in 36 appearances for the Rome outfit but like the others mentioned, creation is his key. This player has the potential to unlock opposition defences with the simplest of flicks or the subtlest of chips.

Hernanes is also a product of the Sao Paulo academy (becoming a slight motif here) and in 2009, was listed as the most promising player in the world. The player may not have lived up to the hype in the eyes of some, but one would have to argue that with a more impressive midfield/attack surrounding him, Hernanes could shine at a club like Chelsea.

At 26, the Brazilian international doesn’t represent the most valuable in terms of sell-on value, and Lazio would be looking to recover at least the £10m they paid for their player just over a year ago. One year into a five-year deal, the London club would be looking at a fee of between £15m-20m for the talisman.

The Answer

If it were any smaller club, then Hernanes would have to be the player picked to fill an immediate slot in the midfield. Proven in a top European league, the 26 year-old knows what he’s doing when it comes to supplying and scores himself when necessary.

That being said, Chelsea aren’t a small side in any understanding of the term, so Ganso is the only possibility for me. The 22 year-old has already shown that he is capable of top-class performances for Brazil, and while Neymar is being linked with a £50m move to Real Madrid, his supply machine is being slightly neglected in the shadows, I feel. With the money Abramovich has, this starlet would be a sound investment for the club before FFP kicks in next year.

Tom is one of our most experienced contributors, with over a decade of online publishing. A Man Utd fan, Thomas brings you all the latest news from UK football.

Free Bet