Frank Lampard did not want to linger too long on what had taken place the night before – even though he considered keeping Everton in the Premier League one of his greatest achievements in football. Instead, the Toffees boss was focused on what lay ahead and how to avoid a repeat of the fraught 2021/22 campaign.
“We’ll look at how we can work [with the current players], which is the first thing, and then about how we can add to improve, “Lampard explained.” Can we make the squad stronger and more balanced? I believe we can. It’s important we look at it that way – and it’s important we look at it quickly.
“We do not want to be here [a battle against relegation] next year, but we understand if we do not make positive moves, then it is possible. So we’ll be ready to move on that quickly. “
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Everton have yet to complete any signings this summer, although one is imminent with James Tarkowski set to undergo a medical ahead of a free transfer to Goodison Park. The center-back is someone Lampard has long admired; he even recommended Chelsea pursue a move for the then-Burnley defender in 2021, according to The Athletic.
With money tight at Everton, Lampard is going to have to work shrewdly in the market. And as a result, it’s no shock that he has been linked with taking players on loan from Chelsea, the club at which he is a legend for what he achieved during his glittering playing career.
Lampard, of course, also spent 18 months in charge of the Blues between 2019 and 2021. His first season resulted in a fourth-place finish and saw several academy graduates incorporated into the first-team squad. After a raft of signings were made, his second campaign at the helm ended at the midway point with Chelsea ninth in the Premier League.
It was a painful dismissal for Lampard and one that impacted his reputation as a coach. But what did become clear during his time at Stamford Bridge – and in his one season in charge at Derby County – was Lampard’s ability to harness the talent of young, homegrown players.
So it should come as no surprise the Everton head coach is reportedly interested in two of Chelsea’s standout academy graduates, both of whom spent last season out on loan. The first is Conor Gallagher, who starred at Crystal Palace and has previously called Lampard his idol. The second is Billy Gilmour, who endured a tough campaign at Norwich City.
The two midfielders are currently away on international duty with England and Scotland, respectively – and they will then head off on much-deserved summer breaks. It will be an opportunity for both to recharge and to plan what comes next in their fledgling careers.
Gallagher’s Chelsea future is perhaps more certain. football.london understands the 22-year-old is intent on laying down a marker on the club’s tour of the United States – which begins on July 9 – and in a recent meeting with Thomas Tuchel, Gallagher was reassured he would be an important player next season ahead of the World Cup.
The next step of Gilmour’s career has to be handled carefully. His Norwich loan did not go exactly as hoped, but he will have benefitted from the nonetheless experience. If the chance to join Lampard, who handled the young Scot his Chelsea debut at Everton, arose this summer, it may be the ideal opportunity.
What Gilmour has over Gallagher, however, is that he has already showcased he can handle himself in the Blues side. It should not be forgotten the Scotland international played 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium near the end of the 2020/21 campaign under Tuchel. He already has the German’s trust.
Given Lampard’s unbreakable bond with Chelsea, it feels almost inevitable a player or two will swap Stamford Bridge for Goodison Park. But he may have to play the long game this summer with Tuchel set to oversee a rebuild at Stamford Bridge following the takeover by the Todd Boehly-led consortium.