Frank Lampard has challenged Christian Pulisic to become Chelsea’s answer to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Pulisic has scored in both of Chelsea’s victories since the season restarted, including a brilliant solo goal against Manchester City that helped clinch the Premier League title for Liverpool.
Salah and Mane have fired Liverpool to success with 17 goals and 15 goals respectively, and Lampard believes they are the players, together with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who Pulisic should be striving to match.
Despite taking some time to adapt to the Premier League and missing games through injury, Pulisic has scored seven goals so far this season, which is the most of any player aged 21 or under.
Lampard said: “He (Pulisic) has the ability to emulate the Raheem Sterlings, who are now producing numbers from wide areas, and Mo Salahs and Manes. It’s important that he understands what is needed to do that because he certainly has the talent to do that. He needs to try to get to that sort of level.”
Aged 21, Pulisic joined Chelsea for £57.6million from Borussia Dortmund last summer and had big expectations to live up to following the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
Because of injuries and the coronavirus lockdown, the United States international had not played since January 1 before he made an impact from the substitutes’ bench against Aston Villa last weekend.
“Christian can be a really good player,” said Lampard. “He broke through at such a young age in Germany and he moves to us, and it’s a big move, so obviously people’s expectations rise. But we have to take his age into consideration.
“But there’s no doubt his quality – we can see that – and he is very keen to improve and to work. He’s particularly hungry at the minute because he missed some time with injury.
“And he wants to learn, so I’m delighted to have him at the minute. He works very hard every day and he has to set his sights as high as he possibly can. “
Pulisic and his Chelsea team-mates travel to Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday, with Lampard looking to win his first piece of silverware as a manager.
Lampard remembers how Jose Mourinho built a winning culture at Stamford Bridge when he was a player and believes a first trophy for his team would be an important milestone.
“Jose brought that mentality to us that winning the first trophy really helps you to push on,” said Lampard. “In our team, we do have a mixture of players who have been here and won a lot, plus some younger players that haven’t done that.
“Myself as a manager, I haven’t but I recognise the importance of that. That’s what we’re here for, to win things at a club like Chelsea. It doesn’t fall short of me, the FA Cup is something we’re going to give everything to.
“It will be a difficult game against Leicester because we know the qualities they have, but we have to focus on trying to go as far as we can. It would be a big boost if we can get further, but when you’re just going into a quarter-final it is hard to jump too far ahead because we’re going to have tough matches.”
Chelsea have only ended three full seasons without a trophy since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003 and Lampard knows that is a record the club are proud of.
“I think it’s important,” said Lampard. “You have to have that idea (to win trophies every year). But, in reality, the competition you are up against and the teams that are still in the FA Cup, it’s going to be tough.
“We’re in a year of slight transition and the big focus is always the league, of course. But when it comes to Chelsea, no matter what, you want to try to win – and when you get to the quarter-final, you want to try and get to Wembley and you want to try to win it.
“So it’s important for us to focus on that. We’re building, we are working. It won’t be easy to win this trophy, but with the squad we have and the positive feeling within the group at the moment, we have to go into it with the right intention.”