Frank Lampard insists he is "very happy" with the players at his disposal as Chelsea appeal against a transfer ban imposed by FIFA.

The Premier League side were blocked from signing new players for two transfer windows in February after breaching rules relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.

That ban was partially upheld following Chelsea's initial appeal to FIFA, although the club are still unable to bring in senior players, serving the first part of their suspension in the recent transfer window.

Chelsea were permitted to register players under the age of 16, but the club announced their intention to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the hearing date now set for November 20.

Lampard says he is relaxed about the club's transfer situation, given how impressively academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have taken to life in the first team this season.

Asked for his opinion on the appeal at a news conference ahead of his side's Champions League clash against Ajax on Tuesday, Lampard said: "I'm very interested, but I don't know enough about the legal situation to delve.

"It can effect what we can do, but it is a little down my list. We have games against Ajax and Crystal Palace to think about.

"We are on a good run. We will always look to improve if we can, but I am very happy with what I've got."

After losing to Valencia in their opening Group H game, Chelsea have bounced back with consecutive wins over Lille and Ajax.

They are level on six points with Dutch champions Ajax at the group's summit, but Lampard refuted suggestions the Blues would have one foot in the knockout stages if they overcome Erik ten Hag's side at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't like to say that," he added. "I felt at the start it would be tight. We have had two good results and another one would be great for us. But the danger of Ajax is massive.

"After losing the opening game, we have shown a great reaction. It is expected of Chelsea to go through. It is maybe why we had the reaction after Valencia. We need to have the same attitude as the last results."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed N'Golo Kante is available for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Ajax.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

After missing five games for the Blues, he returned to training on Monday and is in consideration for the visit of Dutch champions Ajax to Stamford Bridge.

Lampard told a media conference: "He is in the squad. It looks like the injuries are clearing up."

The Chelsea boss, however, was unable to confirm when Antonio Rudiger might return to first-team action.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

Chelsea are level with Ajax on six points at the top of Group H, with Valencia two points further back.

 

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

We are edging closer to the release of Football Manager 2020 on November 19, meaning new elements and features of the game are seeing the light of day.

That also means talk of those precious 'wonderkids' is starting, as managers look to get a head start on which young talents to snap up early instead of forking out massive sums for the same kids a few years down the line.

A player's potential is never a guarantee of future success. Injuries, a lack of faith from the manager or poor mentality can cause havoc with so-called 'hot prospects'.

Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz are all 'wonderkid' certainties, but only a select few clubs will ever be able to afford them.

But, with the right guidance, the following lesser-known players could prove to be similarly smart acquisitions and cost significantly less...

Dillon Hoogewerf - Manchester United

A 16-year-old forward, Hoogewerf was one of the hottest prospects in Ajax's academy before Manchester United snapped him up ahead of this season. A silky dribbler and all-round attacking threat, he promises to be a talent would-be United bosses will want to focus on the development of. On the flipside, youngsters don't always reach their potential at the biggest clubs, meaning he might prove an interesting option to smaller sides… if you're patient.

Pedrinho - Corinthians

The latest - after Vinicius and Rodrygo - in a long line of Brazilian talents to be dubbed the 'next Neymar', Pedrinho looks destined for the top. An outrageously skilful attacker who usually plays out wide for Corinthians, the 21-year-old likes to come in off the right flank and on to his left foot, as he relishes a shot after beating his man. Comparisons with Arjen Robben are understandable, but the quicker you make a move, the less you'll have to stump up.

Sandro Tonali - Brescia

Given Tonali now has a full season of professional football under his belt, he's likely to be one of the hardest to attain from this list. Nevertheless, he is still at Brescia despite links with the big Italian clubs, therefore making him a tantalising proposition if you've got a bit of a budget to play with. Dubbed the 'next Andrea Pirlo', Tonali is a deep-lying midfielder who possesses a brilliant range of passing. He will also be among the very best teenagers right at the start of the game.

Antonio Marin - Dinamo Zagreb

A favourite of many on FM19 due to his immense potential and relatively low cost, left-winger Marin should still be a hot prospect and fairly attainable. He made seven league appearances for Dinamo last season, most of them coming in the final few months of the campaign, so his fee is unlikely to have rocketed just yet. Securing the 18-year-old in a deal that sees him remain in Croatia on loan for a season could be wise for his development, particularly if Dani Olmo is sold in the first few months of the game.

Devyne Rensch - Ajax

As you might expect from an Ajax academy product, Rensch is calm and composed in possession and a fine reader of the game from centre-back. He has already signed professional terms despite being only 16, so you won't be able to poach him like United have done with Hoogewerf, but he certainly shouldn't be considered unattainable. Similarly, Perr Schuurs is another interesting option at centre-back, though at 19 and now exposed to first-team football with the Dutch champions, he could be trickier to acquire.

Julian Aude - Lanus

Although Argentinian football can truly be a treasure trove of promising talent, work permits are often an issue for many players, particularly if they're young. But with Aude you shouldn't have such problems, as the 16-year-old also has Italian citizenship. The Lanus academy product has impressed with Argentina's youth sides due to his remarkable technical wizardry for a full-back, while he's also a tenacious competitor. Obviously, his age makes Aude a gamble, but he'll be affordable for many and there's little doubt about his potential, it's just a case of nurturing him.

Bryan Gil - Sevilla

The production line that nurtured Jesus Navas, Antonio Puerta, Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Reyes has gone a little stagnant in recent years, but Bryan arrived on the scene last term and made 11 substitute appearances in LaLiga, making an impact on the left flank in most - if not all - of them. Unless you want him on loan, he'll be difficult to sign initially for smaller clubs, but if he does become a realistic target at any point, he will provide a strong option as an out-and-out, old-fashioned left winger.

Odin Thiago Holm - Valerenga

A technically gifted central midfielder, Holm, 16, is yet to make a splash in the Valerenga first team. However, he is very highly rated in Norway, with his ability on the ball and eye for a pass drawing comparisons – perhaps predictable, given his name – with Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara. Considering his relative unknown status and the fact he is not playing in one of the more fashionable leagues, Holm would likely be a cheap, low-risk purchase that could really pay dividends down the line for managers aiming for a long stay.

Fernando Ovelar - Cerro Porteno

It's still to be confirmed if Ovelar will be on the game, as he is only 15. However, he has already made nine appearances for Cerro Porteno in Paraguay and scored his first goal in November 2018 when he was just 14, making him the Paraguayan Primera Division's youngest scorer and appearance maker. Although it's still early days in his career, he's a skilful and gifted forward, and if you fancy yourself as a manager adept at bringing youth talents through to the first team, he could be a shrewd investment.

Ronaldo Camara - Benfica

Already a regular for Benfica's Under-19s despite being 16, Camara is a potential diamond. A well-rounded attacking midfielder, the Guinea-Bissau native is not your average playmaker. He has a fine range of passing and can certainly dribble, but he is also a tireless worker and loves to tackle. Benfica are famous for selling cheaply acquired talents for huge sums and Camara looks to be of the same ilk… unless you can get him early.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham may have been humiliated 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but he is a target for the German giants.

With Niko Kovac overseeing an inconsistent start to the season in Munich, Bayern are reportedly willing to move on from the former Eintracht Frankfurt boss.

That could open the door for Pochettino, whose Tottenham have struggled to reach the heights of last season following their memorable run to the Champions League final.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN CONSIDER POCH

Bayern Munich are considering Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as a replacement for Niko Kovac, according to Sport1.

Kovac has found himself under increasing criticism following Bayern's inconsistent start to the season.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag – who previously worked with Bayern's reserve team – has also been linked, but sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has reportedly identified Pochettino as the man to replace Kovac should he depart.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Atletico Madrid are eyeing Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam. The left-back is out of favour and set to leave the Serie A outfit in January.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are keen to sign Borussia Dortmund's Lukasz Piszczek and Juventus midfielder Emre Can, claims Soccerlink. Piszczek's contract expires at the end of the season, while Can is reportedly eager to leave after being left out of Juve's Champions League squad.

- Sport Bild says Liverpool have joined the race to sign Valencia sensation Ferran Torres. The 19-year-old winger has attracted interest from Dortmund and Barcelona.

Arkadiusz Milik has agreed a contract extension with Napoli, reports Calciomercato. The Poland international's current deal runs out in 2021.

- Former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso is favourite to take charge of Udinese. It comes as Sky Sport Italia, Tuttomercatoweb and La Gazzetta dello Sport claim Igor Tudor's position is being considered after consecutive 7-1 and 4-0 routs in Serie A.

Dortmund have set their sights on Hertha Berlin's Javairo Dilrosun, according to Bild. As the German side reportedly prepare for life without Jadon Sancho amid ongoing links to Manchester United, former Manchester City youth-team player Dilrosun is on their radar.

Ajax full-back Sergino Dest has committed his international future to the United States over the Netherlands.

The 18-year-old was born and raised in the Dutch city of Almere but has represented USA from Under-17s level up.

He earned his first two senior caps for USA in a pair of friendlies in September but was not included in their squad for CONCACAF Nations League games against Cuba and Canada earlier this month.

Dest explained at the start of October that he needed time to consider whether to switch allegiance to his native Netherlands or continue representing USA, whom he qualifies for through his Surinamese-American father.

In an interview with Ajax's official website on Monday, Dest confirmed he will stick with USA going forward, ending the tug-of-war for his services.

"I have chosen to play for Team USA going forward," he said. "I have based this decision on my feeling; however, it was a tough one.

"Of course, it was a tough decision for me when the Dutch Men's National Team showed their interest, but I have built up a very good feeling with team USA over the last couple of years and I strongly believe in the plans and potential of U.S. Soccer.

"I am therefore dedicated to making the next 10-15 years a big success and will do my utmost to help the team play for titles."

Dest, who has featured 16 times for Ajax in all competitions this season, revealed he has already discussed his decision with Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman.

"I have personally informed the national team coach Ronald Koeman because I respect him greatly and didn't want him to learn from the press," he said.

"He told me he was disappointed. However, he respected my choice, as in the end it's my life and I have to live with the choices I make, good or bad."

The first opportunity for Dest to officially be tied to USA will come next month when Gregg Berhalter's side face Canada in a must-win CONCACAF Nations League group-stage match.

Ajax technical director Marc Overmars said he will not stand in the way of Erik ten Hag returning to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Ten Hag has been linked with Bayern, where he coached the club's reserves from 2013 to 2015 before returning to Netherlands to join FC Utrecht and eventually Ajax.

The 49-year-old head coach refused to rule out a high-profile return to Bayern this month after leading Ajax to Eredivisie glory last season and a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Asked about the speculation amid uncertainty over Bayern boss Niko Kovac, Overmars told Fox Sports: "I'm happy with it. That means he's doing well.

"You must always remain realistic. If such big clubs come for you, how often do you get that chance?"

Ten Hag oversaw Ajax's crushing 4-0 victory over rivals Feyenoord in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Hakim Ziyech, Nicolas Tagliafico, David Neres and Donny van de Beek were all on target as unbeaten leaders Ajax moved six points clear atop the table.

Responding to Overmars' comments, Ten Hag said: "Well, I think Overmars wants to keep me.

"We are busy with something beautiful here, and we will keep building on that steadily."

Proposals for a joint league featuring elite clubs from Netherlands and Belgium have reached a second stage.

The concept has been mooted for a number of years but has now moved a step closer, with a select group of teams from Eredivisie and the Belgian First Division being asked to give their views.

Consultancy firm Deloitte was hired to explore the possibility of a combined league, which would be known as 'BeNeLiga'.

The five top clubs from Belgium (Gent, Club Brugge, Genk, Anderlecht and Standard Liege) met the top six from Netherlands (Ajax, AZ, Utrecht, Feyenoord, PSV and Vitesse) earlier this year, and Dutch football governing body KNVB has confirmed talks were successful enough to continue with the exploration.

A statement on KNVB's official website read: "The clubs involved decided in a first phase to conduct a feasibility study into the theoretical added value of a BeNeLiga.

"This study is also facilitated by the national associations (KNVB and KBVB) for the sake of the broader football interest. That research has since been carried out by Deloitte.

"The results of the first phase confirm that the new BeNeLiga has a potential significant value increase."

The next phase of the investigation will look at a possible format and the impact a new joint league will have on Dutch and Belgian teams.

Cesar Azpilicueta called for Chelsea to be realistic with Callum Hudson-Odoi but acknowledged the teenage winger is set to be a "massive player" for the club.

Hudson-Odoi has reclaimed his place in the Chelsea team after returning from a ruptured Achilles, starring against Newcastle United last week and then making his first Champions League start away at Ajax.

The England international was less effective in Amsterdam on Wednesday than he had been in recent weeks, but Frank Lampard's men earned a precious 1-0 away win.

Club captain Azpilicueta was not concerned by a quiet showing from Hudson-Odoi, recognising the inconsistency that comes with a young player who still has just six Premier League starts to his name.

Azpilicueta said: "We don't have to forget that Callum is 18 years old and his progression in the last 12-15 months, with an injury in between... We have to be realistic.

"The way he worked for the team, the way he always showed the ability to get the ball, to dribble, not to have any fear to hide in between the full back.

"I think Callum is a very important player for us. He's going to be massive player in the future for Chelsea but we have to accept the progression.

"Still, to be 18 years old and the way he's playing is amazing. The only way I can see is by his work rate going up and improving."

Hudson-Odoi is one of a number of academy graduates now in the Chelsea first team, with Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham earning international call-ups this season while Reece James is also breaking through.

Azpilicueta has been pleased with both the way the young stars are adapting to their new demands and with the support they are receiving from more experienced team-mates.

"The players who have more experience in these games try to help the young lads," he said. "For some of them, it's the first year in the Premier League, the first year in the Champions League.

"So we have to be a help for all of them, use our experience to keep them confident and make them express themselves the way they have been doing in the academy.

"It is very important for them to feel confident. It is the way we are working.

"But a lot of credit goes to them because they are good lads, they listen, they want to improve in every training session and learn from the more experienced players, the manager and the staff. It is the right way to keep improving."

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag rued "sloppy" play from his side in Wednesday's late defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League.

Michy Batshuayi struck with four minutes remaining to seal three priceless away points for the Blues, who are level with Ajax on six points after three Group H games.

It was a tough defeat for Ajax given Quincy Promes had a goal ruled out for the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hit the post at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Ten Hag felt there was nothing to split the teams but acknowledged his side were perhaps not quite at their best.

"It was an equal match in which we were the closest to a goal for a long time," he said in quotes reported by ad.nl.

"Top matches are decided on details and we didn't look good at that goal. I sometimes found our play was sloppy. The disappointment is huge. We were equal."

Ten Hag refused to be critical of Promes' tight VAR call, adding: "It is ultimately up to the video referee."

Centre-back Daley Blind felt a draw would have been a fairer reflection of a tight game.

"We were sloppy at times," he said. "We can blame ourselves because that is something we are normally very strong at.

"It was a struggle and we fought. Chelsea are a top team and we didn't make it easy for them. It was a 0-0 match. That result would have been more appropriate I think."

Frank Lampard believes Michy Batshuayi's match-winning moment in Chelsea's 1-0 triumph at Ajax was just reward for the patience he has shown this season.

The Belgium striker hammered home from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's assist with four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to snatch a potentially priceless three points in Champions League Group H.

Batshuayi replaced Lampard's first-choice striker Tammy Abraham, who had been mainly subdued, and had already missed a great chance before thumping in Chelsea's winner.

"The fact Christian Pulisic comes on in the last two games and gets two assists, changes games, I thought his performance was outstanding for 25 minutes or whatever it was," Lampard told BT Sport. 

"And Michy, the great thing about the strikers I've got is that, even though Tammy has been scoring for me, the other two stayed patient, worked hard, supported the group and they've got talent.

"So, it was a choice to bring Michy on because of how mobile he can be and he's waited for his moment and he fully deserved his moment there."

Chelsea have now won consecutive away Champions League matches for the first time since 2013 and sit level with Ajax on six points after three matches.

There were a couple of near misses for the Blues, with Quincy Promes having a goal ruled out for a narrow offside call and Edson Alvarez seeing a header hit the post.

"It was our mistake [that led to Ajax's offside goal] and that's why the Champions League is what it is, that's why it's the ultimate because, in a tiny second, if you switch off, it can go against you," Lampard added. 

"But we deserved our luck, I think. I'm a big believer in that, in how you prepare what you're doing with the input out there, you deserve that little break. 

"We haven't had many VAR breaks this season anyway so I suppose it might have been coming, you make your own luck on that one and the one that hits the post. 

"But I thought, for such a creative side that they are, we didn't have Kepa [Arrizabalaga] under many problems and we did have a lot of moments for us in the box where, had we been better, we could have scored more."

Batshuayi was delighted with his strike but was keen for the focus to be on the team effort.

"I think all the team worked hard," he said. "It's good to win, to get three points. I know [I scored the winner] but the important thing is the three points tonight."

Michy Batshuayi's late strike earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Ajax in Wednesday's Champions League Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

The Belgium striker thumped home fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's low cross with just four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to earn the Blues back-to-back way wins in the competition.

Batshuayi had earlier wasted a gilt-edged chance for Frank Lampard's side in a game that had been struggling to get going.

Ajax will feel aggrieved not to have taken at least a point, though, with Quincy Promes on the wrong end of the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hitting the post in the second half.

Luis Suarez is bidding to end a miserable run in away Champions League matches as Barcelona travel to play Slavia Prague in one of eight games on Wednesday.

Barca earned an important win over Inter on matchday two but still have work to do to progress from a competitive Group F that also contains Borussia Dortmund, who face Antonio Conte's side this time around.

Chelsea travel to play Group H pace-setters Ajax in Amsterdam, having got their campaign back on track with a win against Lille last time out.

Liverpool trail Napoli in Group E but will be confident of defeating Genk after edging a thrilling contest against Salzburg 4-3 at Anfield three weeks ago.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

RB Leipzig v Zenit

7 - RB Leipzig's last seven Champions League results have alternated between a win and a defeat. They lost their last match 2-0 at home to Lyon.

10 - Zenit are winless in their last 10 away European matches (including qualifiers), drawing three and losing seven since beating Real Sociedad 3-1 in a Europa League match back in December 2017.
 

Ajax v Chelsea

5 -  If he scores against Chelsea, Quincy Promes will become the fifth Dutchman in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to score in three consecutive appearances for Ajax. The others are Johan Cruyff (April 1969), Ruud Geels (November 1977), Ruud Krol (October 1979) and Patrick Kluivert (October 1995). 

8 - Since losing 3-0 at Barcelona in March 2018, Chelsea have lost none of their eight away European matches (W6 D2 L0), their longest ever unbeaten away run on the continent.
 

Salzburg v Napoli

0 -  This is the first Champions League encounter between an Austrian team and an Italian side since December 2005, when Juventus won 3-1 away at Rapid Vienna. A team from Austria have never beaten an Italian outfit in the Champions League (W0 D1 L7).

19 – Including qualifiers, Salzburg have not lost any of their last 19 home European matches (W15 D4 L0), winning the last six in a row.
 

Genk v Liverpool

14 - Should Genk fail to defeat Liverpool, they will set a record for games played in the European Cup/Champions League without winning. They have played 14 so far (W0 D8 L6), level with Floriana and Shamrock Rovers.

1 – Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 away Champions League group-stage matches (W1 D3 L6), losing each of the last four in a row.
 

Benfica v Lyon

10 - No French side has ever won an away European match against Benfica in 14 attempts (W0 D4 L10), with 10 different teams failing to win.

2 – Lyon are looking to win consecutive away Champions League matches in the same campaign for the first time since 2009, when they beat Debreceni and Liverpool.
 

Inter v Borussia Dortmund

6 - Inter are winless in six European matches against German opposition (W0 D1 L5) since a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League in March 2011.

2 – Dortmund have only conceded two goals in their last eight Champions League group stage matches, keeping clean sheets in seven of those matches.
 

Slavia Prague v Barcelona

4 – This is the first meeting between the two sides in Europe, though Barcelona have won all four of their previous Champions League meetings against Czech opponents.

19 – Suarez scored twice against Inter on MD2 in Barcelona's 2-1 victory, but the Uruguay striker is goalless in his last 19 away Champions League matches, attempting 59 shots without success since a goal against Roma in September 2015.
 

Lille v Valencia

6 - Lille are yet to defeat a Spanish team in the Champions League in six attempts (W0 D3 L3), facing Deportivo de La Coruna, Villarreal and Valencia previously without success.

11 – Valencia have failed to score in seven of their last 11 Champions League matches. Prior to that run, they had been unable to score in just seven of their previous 33 in the competition.

Frank Lampard acknowledges Chelsea are still a "long way" behind Champions League opponents Ajax in terms of youth development.

Blues head coach Lampard has put his faith in a number of the club's academy graduates this season, with Chelsea serving a two-window transfer ban.

Centre-back Fikayo Tomori, midfielder Mason Mount, winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and striker Tammy Abraham are among a cadre of youngsters handed first-team opportunities.

However, Ajax - long heralded for their own production line - have again set the benchmark for European clubs after a squad laden with young talent reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League.

"We've got a long way to go to claim the similarities," Lampard said on the eve of the Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

"It's great we have a good feeling at the club, in terms of the young players that have come through. I think it's long-deserved recognition for the academy itself and those players as well. 

"But we are at a place here that is steeped in history of bringing young players through, creating great teams with groups of young players over the years. 

"We have a long way to go to do that. But in the short term, I'm certainly happy and we need to continue working so that they continue their development, the young players."

Lampard was asked whether Chelsea's hierarchy had discussed emulating the Ajax model but warned against simply trying to copy the Dutch giants.

He said: "I am not privy to it, and I am sat here from afar so I wouldn't want to go into too much detail. 

"I think it is something that is not so smart, to copy a model from somewhere else in the world that looks like it has done from the outside. 

"I think we can sort of constantly re-evaluate ourselves and see where we can improve. I am certainly happy that ex-players are here, but I don't think that is the end. I think we have to keep pushing for results and performances on the pitch."

Despite lauding what Ajax achieved in the previous campaign, Lampard has urged his players not to feel any trepidation about the fixture against the Eredivisie champions.

"I respect the team. We saw the way this team played last year, and I know that the team has changed slightly," he explained.

"I am very aware of the new threats of the team and anywhere to travel in the Champions League is a difficult match. 

"They have won two games in the group convincingly, so definitely it is not a fact of being scared of Ajax. We have confidence in ourselves."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.