Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will challenge Manchester City for the 2016-17 Premier League title, according to club legend Frank Lampard.
Now of New York City, Lampard won three Premier League crowns during a trophy-laden 13 years at Stamford Bridge, becoming the club’s record goalscorer in the process.
After lifting the trophy for a fourth time at the end of 2014-15, Chelsea endured a miserable defence last season, Jose Mourinho getting the sack in December before Guus Hiddink led the club to 10th.
Conte won three successive Serie A titles at Juventus and impressed in charge of Italy at Euro 2016, guiding his country to the last eight before being eliminated on penalties by Germany, and Lampard believes it will be Chelsea or City – with whom he spent a short spell two seasons ago – who are celebrating come May.
“Being at Chelsea for such a long time I have an allegiance so I would obviously like Chelsea to win the league and I think they’ll be back challenging,” the 38-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I do fancy it being between Chelsea and Manchester City this year.
“I spoke to [Andrea] Pirlo about him and he had nothing but great things to say. He works the lads very hard in training with his fitness work and with organisation on the pitch.
“The players will need to buy into that and respect that then you’ll see an improvement from last year.
“Seeing him at the Euros I loved his passion, I loved how he was on the line, how he had his team together with a real fighting spirit. That will all help Chelsea and I look forward to that.”
Conte’s first competitive match in charge comes on Monday, when Chelsea host London rivals West Ham in their Premier League opener.