Frank Lampard has warned that Chelsea have discarded world-leading talents too quickly in the past and called for patience in the development of Kai Havertz, the German attacker whom the Chelsea manager says has suffered badly from the effects of Covid. The 21-year-old, who joined in a deal worth up to £70 million from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer, has registered just one goal and one assist in 14 Premier League appearances so far as Chelsea seek to end a poor run on Saturday against Manchester City. The Chelsea manager needs a result at Stamford Bridge with just one win in the team’s last five games. Discussing the challenges facing Havertz, Lampard alluded to the careers of Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, both of whom joined Chelsea at an early stage in their careers and then departed – to return to the Premier League as arguably the competition’s two best players. Lampard said Havertz had “definitely has had a bit of a fallout with that [Covid] physically” since he contracted the virus in the early stages of this season. Lampard said: “It is something we are trying to help him to deal with. The expectation around him … you have to put context into the story. Kai’s talent is undoubted. I see that every day. Giving him the time to adapt to the Premier League and to our team is crucial – crucial. “We have seen players come here in the past, [who] didn’t really adapt, went elsewhere and came back to the Premier League and absolutely lit it up to unbelievable levels. I am not trying to compare Kai directly with that but there are so many stories across the Premier League, not just Chelsea. So I have full belief in him. We need to give him that time particularly because of the Covid situation. That is a problem. That is not a non-issue, it is an issue that is related beyond his illness.” Lampard has Hakim Ziyech back in his squad for the City game but is without Reece James. Havertz played the latter stages of the draw with Aston Villa on Monday but has not started a league game since Wolverhampton Wanderers on Dec 28. Lampard said that the pressure on Havertz was even greater than he himself experienced when he joined Chelsea as a 23-year-old in 2001 from West Ham and that his experience would be helpful in guiding the player.
Chelsea and Liverpool are both within range of the top four after West Ham lost at Newcastle, while Sheffield United's relegation has been confirmed.
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