Ethan Ampadu: Why Lampard needs the Welshman
Ethan Ampadu of RB Leipzig looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and RB Leipzig at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

At just 19-years-old Ethan Ampadu has featured amongst and against some of the best players in world football. A Wales international, a Premier League, Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League debutant…

With so much experience at such a young age, Ampadu has proven he has a unique winning mentality which has become rare in recent times. A mentality that Frank Lampard has been yearning.

Ampadu has a distinctive fusion of elegance and grace on the ball entwined with a meticulous eye for a pass displaying flashes of brilliance – an abundance of potential is yet to be enkindled. Often a true spectacle; whether he is the beating heart of midfield or the metronome at the back. 

The young Welshman has what it takes to flourish under Lampard’s exciting philosophy at Chelsea. An embodiment of Lampard’s character. The epitome of the modern-day defender.

All Ampadu needs is a chance…

A unique passing ability

Having made just seven appearances this season on loan at RB Leipzig, Ampadu found comfort as a ball-playing centre half alongside the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konaté, Willi Orban and Lukas Klostermann.

The youngster from Exeter played just 281 minutes (club competitions only) across the 2019/20 season but maintained a 91.3% pass completion rate. Ampadu’s most notable contribution of the season came in February when he was drafted into the heart of Julian Nagelsmann’s back three. 

Leipzig defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in North London which saw the Welshman sustain a resounding 94.9% pass completion rate in addition to four interceptions, three clearances and two successful dribbles. Ampadu adapted to the European stage exceptionally, portraying his excellent ability. Once again, he was overlooked. A dark horse.

With such little game time at the highest level, it is hard to statistically compare Ampadu with other competitors. However, in just 181 minutes of Champions League football at Leipzig, Ampadu attempted 190 passes; 187 were successful, 17 were made whilst under pressure and four were switches of play. 

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Ampadu made his competitive debut for Wales in the UEFA Nations League filling in as a holding midfielder. He excelled; The Welsh regista sprayed passes across the Republic of Ireland half like a sprinkler on a hot summer’s day.

Inside the first ten minutes, Ampadu clipped a delightfully weighted passes to the feet of Connor Roberts. A pass that would trigger a Welsh surge and see Tom Lawrence fire Ryan Giggs’ side in front.

Not only was Ampadu displaying his technical abilities but his defensive ones too. The 19-year-old pressed the Republic of Ireland midfield before winning the ball on the half-way line. Ampadu drove forward, gliding in-field before threading a delightful pass through to Aaron Ramsey. The former Arsenal man added to Giggs’ lead.

A four-goal lead could have become five. ‘Ampadu, so comfortable in possession,’ sang the commentator as the replay showed the young utility man float a wonderfully lofted pass to Gareth Bale before he thundered the ball into the net. Unfortunately for Ampadu, Bale was inches offside.

A game that symbolised what Ampadu is capable of. In a holding midfield role or at centre half, the Welshman can do the job.

Chelsea’s lucky charm

Ampadu has an incredible track record while in the comfort of a Chelsea shirt. Twelve appearances for the South West London side; five in a holding midfield role, five at centre half and two at right back. Eleven wins, one draw and seven goals conceded. 

For Chelsea, he has proven himself in the Europa League, in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup against the likes of Newcastle, Norwich and Everton.

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Should he be given a second bite of the cherry at Stamford Bridge, he will feel like a new signing. A breath of fresh air.

He is a young, driven player who has the qualities, mentally and physically, to throw himself into every situation with his team’s best interests at heart. Most importantly, a leader.

Thrown in at the deep end

At just 15 years, 10 months and 26 days old, Ampadu was thrown into the deep end of professional English football becoming Exeter City’s youngest ever player.

With the help of Ampadu at centre half, Exeter defeated Championship side Brentford 1-0 in the EFL Cup first round.

All eyes were on the young Welshman and he soon warranted the attention he was receiving. Having grown up in a culture where he has had to face his fears head on, no matter how old or young, time and time again Ampadu will demonstrate all the necessary foundations of becoming a top footballer.

The potential is there and will always be there. Lampard must entrust Ampadu and Chelsea will reap the fruits from their labour.