Belfast Telegraph

Derby are determined to hold onto boss Lampard but Chelsea preparing to make move

 

Wanted man: Frank Lampard is the favourite to take up Chelsea reins
Wanted man: Frank Lampard is the favourite to take up Chelsea reins

By Robert Jones

Derby owner Mel Morris has stressed the club want to keep Frank Lampard as manager "for the long term" amid reported interest from Chelsea.

Following Maurizio Sarri's move to Juventus, former Blues midfielder Lampard has emerged as the favourite for the Stamford Bridge vacancy.

Lampard, who turns 41 on Thursday, enjoyed a hugely successful spell as a player for the Blues, becoming the club's record goalscorer and winning three Premier League titles as well as the Champions League.

Morris, though, maintained the Championship club, who missed out on promotion when they were beaten by Aston Villa in the play-off final at Wembley last month, are determined to hold onto Lampard's services.

"There's no change in the situation at present, except for the fact that Chelsea no longer have a manager," said Morris.

"We have made it clear to everyone, but most importantly to Frank, that we want him and to retain his services for the long term.

"If Chelsea want to hire Frank, then it is in their gift to make an offer in pursuit of that.

"In the meantime, we will continue to put our best foot forward to continue with our plans for the coming season, to work with Frank for him to know how much he is wanted by everyone associated with the club."

Lampard is reported to have already told Derby he would be interested in talking to Chelsea if an approach was made.

The former England midfielder remains the overwhelming favourite to take over at Stamford Bridge.

Moving for such a rookie coach would be a bold appointment by Chelsea and a big step for Lampard, but it would be a hugely popular move with fans.

Former Chelsea bosses Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho have also been touted as potential replacements for Sarri, who guided the London club to Europa League success last season.

Harry Redknapp, though, suggested it appeared only a matter of time before his nephew returned to Stamford Bridge.

"I think it would be a major surprise if he doesn't get the job. It looks to me as though it will happen," said Redknapp.

"It would be brilliant for him. A shame for Derby as Mel Morris gave him the opportunity there and he's done a great job. But it's a great move; he's absolutely idolised at Chelsea.

"He knows the game, he knows what it's about, he's got a touch of class... it will be great."

Sarri's successor will be the 14th different manager employed since owner Roman Abramovich took over in 2003.

The 60-year-old Italian was in the position for one year after succeeding compatriot Antonio Conte last summer. He guided the team to Europa League success, third place in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup final.

But the former investment banker failed to win over all Chelsea fans, with frustration at his regimented tactics and an apparent reluctance to play homegrown talents Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Form was also inconsistent at times and, with Sarri hankering after a return to Italy, the club decided not to stand in his way when Juventus expressed an interest. A compensation package understood to be in excess of £5m was agreed with the Serie A champions.

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