London: Chelsea have opened the door on a potential one-year contract extension for Frank Lampard, just four months after the midfielder’s agent claimed that “in no circumstances” would his player be offered a new deal.
Lampard has impressed members of the Chelsea hierarchy with his performances and also the way he has accepted being a squad player for so much of the season and there now remains a genuine possibility of him staying. Steve Kutner, Lampard’s agent, stressed yesterday that there had been no change in his client’s contract situation but, according to sources at Chelsea, all options remain open and no final decision has been made.
That stance would conflict with what the Lampard camp thought they had been told around Christmas when they believed that there was no prospect of a new contract.
Lampard met Michael Emenalo, the club’s sporting director, while Chelsea were in Japan for the World Club Cup in December and was told that there would be no talks. That was interpreted by the Lampard camp as a definite position but there is now a sense at Chelsea that Emenalo was talking only about that moment of the season and that no definitive decision had been made.
The identity of the next manager, especially if it were to be the returning Jose Mourinho, could also influence the situation.
Speaking in January, Kutner said: “Chelsea executives told Frank in Japan during the Club World Cup, then again reconfirmed with me after the Everton victory [both in December], that in no circumstances will he be offered a new contract to stay at the club after the end of this season.
“Nothing since has changed in any respect. Frank has had to accept that and just wants to carry on playing football for Chelsea so as to finish the season as successfully as possible for the club that he loves.”
It is normal for the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, to wait until the final year of a contract to speak to players who are over the age of 30.
It would be unusual, however, for the club to offer an extension so late into a player’s deal. Lampard scored his 201st Chelsea goal in the win against Swansea on Sunday and needs just one more to equal Bobby Tambling’s all-time mark of 202.
John Terry, the captain, finds himself in a similar position with his contract but does have one more year left on his deal. He is also still waiting.