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.”