Frank Lampard describes rumours over Chelsea job as an ‘easy link’

Frank Lampard describes rumours over Chelsea job as an ‘easy link’

Frank Lampard will hold crucial talks with Mel Morris, the Derby County owner, about the club’s future in the wake of Monday’s Championship play-off final against Aston Villa, but his own position as manager is also likely to be high on the agenda in response to rumours that Chelsea could make a move for him.

Lampard described the reports in relation to the Chelsea job as an “easy link” given the 13 years he spent there as a player and insisted that now was not the time to talk at length on that subject. He pointed to the fact that Maurizio Sarri, whose position has been under scrutiny for some time, is the Chelsea manager, and said his focus is solely on trying to lead Derby to promotion to the Premier League in the £170m showdown at Wembley.

Related: Pleasure of promotion is potent despite likelihood of pain to follow | Paul Wilson

Irrespective of the outcome of that game, Lampard will sit down with Morris to discuss where the club go next, with the Derby manager fully aware that defeat would leave them in a difficult position. Five key players are out of contract and three influential loan signings – Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori – are scheduled to return to their parent clubs.

READ MORE: Arsene Wenger insists he will return to football

READ MORE: Wenger - Baku final is a nightmare for Arsenal and Chelsea fans

READ MORE: Mourinho believes Spurs could go on a trophy spree if they win the Champions League

The biggest issue, however, could be Lampard himself, with the 40-year-old believed to be the leading contender to take over at Stamford Bridge if Sarri departs. “Firstly, I find it quite difficult because they’ve got a game coming up,” Lampard said, referring to Chelsea’s Europa League final against Arsenal on Wednesday.

“More importantly for me, we’ve got a game coming up before that. And also they have a manager, in Sarri, who is trying to get them to win that final.

“It’s been a bit of an obvious link all season. If I say it is maybe because of where we’re at in the final, and we’re being talked about, and we’ve had a good year, and then I get linked because of my 13 years at the club. I understand the link.

“But in terms of how I’m seeing it, I don’t want to think about it. I want to talk about Monday, I want to work with the team, I want to get this over the line for us.

“I’ve got two years left on my contract here and I see no further than Monday. I will sit down with Mel after the game, which was planned before all this [Chelsea] talk anyway, to see firstly what the result was on Monday, because that’s going to be defining how we chat, and to see where the club goes forward. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked whether he could ever say no if Chelsea offered him the job, Lampard replied: “I’m not going to answer that question because it’s a headline. When I started out in management people said: ‘Your dream must be to be Chelsea manager.’ It’s an easy link.

“My dream was to do as well as I can day in and day out, to be successful. I can’t call that one [the Chelsea job]. Those things happen or they don’t. My focus is completely on the here and now.”

Related: Jack Grealish will cost ‘a lot of money’ if Aston Villa lose play-off final, says Smith

Lampard, who will be up against, among others, John Terry, the Villa assistant head coach and a former Chelsea teammate, said he would not be seeking assurances from Morris when he meets the Derby owner. He did, however, admit their conversation would be critical when it comes to what the immediate future holds for the club.

“They’re crucial [talks] because we all know the situation,” Lampard said. “Contracts are running out for some players, some naturally. The loan players – we have to think we are going to lose them all, so the squad is low in numbers. So they’re crucial because we know that the club is in a different position to what it has been in years before. Of course, [getting into] the Premier League would change that.”

Lampard won pretty much every honour going as a player, but he admitted that taking Derby to the top flight in his first season as a manager would be “right at the top” in terms of those achievements.

“I’m not putting it over the Champions League final [in 2012] because for me as a player, personally, the way that felt was incredible. But for a manager, with a different input, and the responsibilities that you have, and working so closely with really good people here, it will be something that goes right up towards that.”