Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has hailed Frank Lampard as the best midfielder during his time in the Premier League.
Van Persie joined Arsenal in 2004 and left Manchester United in 2015, putting himself up against the likes of Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes during his spell in English football.
Why was Lampard so good? Five key things to know…
- Lampard made a name for himself as one of the best goalscoring midfielders during his time at Chelsea.
- The Englishman scored 211 goals in total for the club, and is their all-time record top scorer.
- But his standing among the Premier League’s best is disputed, having been compared to the likes of Gerrard and Scholes.
- However, former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Van Persie rates Lampard higher than the rest.
- Van Persie has also likened Lampard to Real Madrid legends Luka Modric and Zinedine Zidane.
During that time, Lampard represented Chelsea and Manchester City, reshaping the idea of a goalscoring midfielder – ending his time with the west Londoners as the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
And Van Persie believes Lampard was the best midfielder in the Premier League during his era for the way he was able to read football matches.
“There was something fascinating about the way Frank Lampard operated on the pitch,” he said.
“For me, the art of being a great player is seeing things early and reading situations before others do. Luka Modric is brilliant at it – but Frank was the best of all.
“I heard that some coaches observed him once for 90 minutes and it was noted that Frank’s eyes looked all around the pitch about 1,000 times. When I heard about that, I took it on board and decided to work on that aspect of my game intensively.
“Most players need time to control a ball when they receive it. Their head goes down for a second and then it comes back up again – and, in that moment, you lose two vital seconds of decision-making.
“And when you play against world-class players, you don’t get that kind of space and time. You need to keep up the speed in the game. It is the only way you can surprise your opponents.”
Van Persie, currently back at boyhood club Feyenoord, is set to retire at the end of the season, bringing an 18-year senior career to an end.
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Van Persie compares Lampard to Zidane
Van Persie spoke in detail about how his own game has changed to be more like Lampard’s, even comparing the former England international to France legend Zidane.
He added: “So, during a match, I am always scanning the pitch for space, for positions, for opponents and for team-mates. The older I became, the more I did it.
“These days, I often play as a No.10 in midfield, which means I have three attackers in front of me.
“I have made assists for goals for team-mates by delivering my passes early. It is crucial to know who is where on the entire pitch. And because the situation is constantly changing, Lampard would look up a thousand times.
“It is very tiring. But if you have the picture in your head, that means you can play the fast ball. It is such an important option. Lampard used to do that – and I once saw Zinedine Zidane play the perfect match.
“In 90 minutes, I saw that he never once lost the ball. Simply because he was always aware what was happening around him.”