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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard decided to play Mateo Kovacic deep in midfield in the 2-1 win against Hull City in the FA Cup fourth round.
Kovacic was excellent in the game as he dictated the team’s play in the middle of the park and he was absolutely brilliant on the ball. His positional play and ability to drive with the ball was just pleasing.
Lampard has revealed that he was impressed with Kovacic’s performance, while admitting that the Croatian can play both as a defensive and attacking midfielder.
“I think he can do both roles [attacking and defensive],” said Lampard. “We changed the midfield around and rotated it in terms of how we’re playing – I never want it to be absolutely structured – and there’s games he’s played well as part of a two and he’s almost doing a bit of both roles. I think he can do it very well.
“For the development of him, and we’ve got a really good relationship, he loves to talk about his game and he’s very intelligent, he listens when you speak to him, and I think he can get better at all parts of it. He’s very talented and I love working with him and I want to help him improve because he’s important to us.
“I was part of the conversation [when it came to making his loan switch from Real Madrid permanent] and he was one we could bring in because of the situation.
“I watched him last year and liked him from afar. It wasn’t the easiest year for him – sometimes he started, sometimes he didn’t – but I just saw an actual talent in the way he can take people out of the game in midfield and he travels really quickly with the ball and can play really nice combinations.
“But there are other parts of his game that we want to improve. We want to see him score more goals and when he’s in deep defensive areas, of course he has to be very aware to pick up runners and do that job as well.”