at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Roman Abramovich has made the first move to keep Frank Lampard at Chelsea by opening preliminary talks about a new, one-year contract.
Lampard was taken aside at Chelsea’s training ground last week and told Chelsea’s billionaire owner has revised his decision to let him leave.
The Chelsea midfielder, who earns £160,000 a week at Stamford Bridge, was told the club will follow up their initial approach with a formal offer.
Lampard, who was England’s match-winner against Brazil on Wednesday evening at Wembley, was stunned by Abramovich’s U-turn.
He believed he was in the final four months of his contract and would be leaving the club where he has won three Barclays Premier League titles and the Champions League since signing in 2001.
Lampard has scored 10 goals in the top flight this season and is only five away from equalling Bobby Tambling’s record of 202 for the club.
Chelsea’s incredible offer to Lampard, 34, has been made after waves of fan protests against the decision to let him leave. He has been free to negotiate with foreign clubs since January 1 and talks are at an advanced stage with LA Galaxy over a lucrative, two-and-a-half-year contract.
MLS, who lost David Beckham in December, want a high-profile name and Galaxy have offered Lampard a huge deal.
If Lampard rejects Galaxy, the American club will turn to Real Madrid’s winger Kaka as their next option. Lampard has always maintained that he wants to stay at Chelsea.
He has an excellent relationship with Chelsea supporters and there is also the prospect of playing in next summer’s World Cup in Brazil to consider.
England manager Roy Hodgson has made it clear he would be more inclined to select Lampard for his 23-man squad if he remained in England next season.
Lampard, who has 94 caps for his country, said: “I understand where I am in my career, but if I can continue playing for Chelsea then I am getting nearer to 100. It’s certainly a target for me and, yes, I will try to keep playing at a good enough level to get there.
“I won’t retire from England before that, put it that way. I haven’t spoken to Roy about it. There hasn’t been much time. I just try and do my stuff at the moment when I play. I believe he’s the type of manager who, if you are playing well enough, whatever your age, wherever you are, he will pick you.
“I’m very competitive and I’ve got a sniff of the World Cup. Whatever decisions I take, I’ll take to make myself happy.”
Hodgson wants Lampard to stay in Europe, declaring: “I’ve said to him that if it’s not going to be Chelsea, I’m rather hoping he’ll still be here or in Europe because that will make it easier to keep picking him.
“If he does take the David Beckham route and go over to America that doesn’t rule him out but it does make life more difficult.” – Daily Mail