Frank Lampard says that the timing wasn't “ideal” on Willian's interview about his contract situation and insists that no decisions have been made on his Chelsea players' future yet.
Willian gave an interview to the Brazilian media this week in which the 31-year-old revealed that he could leave Chelsea as he isn't being offered the three-year contract that he wants.
The Blues boss refused to clarify whether the comments about the talks were true, although he did say that negotiations are ongoing and no decisions have been made yet over the future of any of his squad.
“It’s an ongoing conversation,” Lampard told reporters. “Maybe not ideal timing but I don’t want to get too drawn into it because I am the manager of the team and don’t want to look too far [ahead].
“Some of the headlines this week had a sense of frustration for me because we're working day-to-day to finish this season and we're not jumping ahead to the summer. Willy’s one is an ongoing situation. It’s not over. We’ll see.”
This comes amid Chelsea being on the brink of a Champions League exit, with their top-four position firmly in the balance and an FA Cup tie to come next week against Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori has not played a single minute of Premier League action in 2020 despite being a regular starter for Lampard in 2019.
The 22-year-old had been one of the breakthrough stars this season along with Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James, but he has been relegated to the bench or even the stands in recent weeks.
Lampard says that he has a difficult task picking a centre-back from his options that include Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma. He still thinks that Tomori has a role to play despite not playing in the league since December.
“I have four centre-backs to choose from, so generally every week two of them are unhappy,” Lampard added. “And then people question you when you stick with a back two or back three. There is competition in that area.
“With Fiks, he always has to train at the top level, that goes for all of the young players because when you are out of the team, however much it hurts, you need to show a good attitude and train very well.
“At the moment he is and he has a long career ahead of him at this club, without a doubt. It’s been more about selection issues.”
Chelsea are now going into an away trip to Bournemouth, who have strung together three wins in a row against the Blues and are looking to make it four on Saturday afternoon.
Lampard is having to lift his team up for a trip to the south coast and remains under pressure with every team down to tenth place coveting their spot in the top four.
He believes that his young players have made a big impact on the squad this season but he feels the perception that Chelsea have a divine right to be at the top table of football is false.
“Sometimes it’s been the young lads earlier this season who have stepped up and that was great,” Lampard continued. “And sometimes they have had it difficult. So I don’t get too caught up in that conversation.
“Maturity will come for them, that’s why we have to give them some leeway this year. For Mason and Reece on Tuesday night it was a huge game for them in terms of their learning curve.
“I didn’t play my first Champions League game until I think my mid-twenties and for me it was an uplift for me at that level, let alone at their age. Reece was playing at Wigan in the Championship and Mason was at Derby with myself.
“And now they are going up against Thiago and the flying machine Davies from Bayern, who is an incredible looking player - and Gnabry as well. It was a huge test. Make no bones about it. It was a difficult night for them.
“It’s not just those players. Kovacic has been to the final with Real Madrid, Azpi has been to the semi-final here. But if you go through the rest of the starting eleven, there are players who are either new to Champions League football - with Ross I think it was his first knock-out stage - or they are players who have got to the last 16.
“We have to be real, we have to be honest. We can’t pull the wool over our own eyes and think all of a sudden we have a divine right at this level to go up against Bayern Munich and beat them.
“There's a reason why we are where we are at the moment. We have not challenged in the Premier League for a couple of years. We have to fight and work as hard as we can on the training pitch and in games to close that gap.
“Come the summer, we want to move forward and make some decisions. But the gap is there. Tuesday showed that. But that should not dishearten us - now it’s how we finish the season.
“I think the landscape of the Premier League has changed. Man City and Liverpool have set incredible standards in the league, and also we had some outside influences with the ban and with circumstance, a huge player left the club.
“Those things are there. We are certainly on the same page here when I speak with the board and we have all our conversations, there is no doubt we know we are fighting for fourth place.
“It is a very dated phrase, when people say: ‘You're Chelsea, there's no way you should be happy with fourth’. No, the Premier League has changed. It is not like it was for Manchester United players 15 or 20 years ago, or Chelsea players when we were first or second for a period in the mid-2000s.
“It’s not like that any more and that is the reality. We do want to climb and bridge the gap and I strongly believe we will. But I am very aware of what that is. The players need to be aware of it and we are as a club.”