Frank Lampard has returned to the club where he played for 13 seasons after he was confirmed as Chelsea manager on Thursday. The club’s record goalscorer completed the final formalities at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening before being announced as Maurizio Sarri’s successor.
Lampard said: “I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach. Everyone knows my love for this club and the history we have shared, however, my sole focus is on the job in hand and preparing for the season ahead. I am here to work hard, bring further success to the club and I cannot wait to get started.”
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “It gives us great pleasure to welcome Frank back to Chelsea as head coach. Frank possesses fantastic knowledge and understanding of the club and last season, he demonstrated he is one of the most talented young coaches in the game.
“After 13 years with us as a player, where he became a club legend and our record goalscorer, we believe this is the perfect time for him to return and are delighted he has done so. We will do everything we can to ensure he has all the support required to be a huge success.”
Lampard was pictured arriving back at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to sign a three-year deal worth around £4m a season and to conduct interviews with in-house media before confirmation of his return was finalised. Derby County, whom Lampard took to the Championship play-off final in his solitary campaign in charge, are understood to have received in excess of £4m in compensation for their manager, who will be joined back in south-west London by his assistant, Jody Morris, and fitness coach, Chris Jones.
Lampard said: “I would like to say a special thank you to [executive chairman] Mel Morris, the players, staff and everyone who is associated with Derby County. It has been a fantastic experience for me, and I feel privileged to have managed such a prestigious club. Most of all, I want to thank the fans who supported me and the team from the day I arrived in the City. I wish everyone the best of luck going forward.”
Chelsea, who lost Sarri to Juventus last month after a difficult year in charge, had been granted permission to open talks with their preferred target last week, with Mel Morris putting the subsequent delay in completing a deal down to the 41-year-old having been on holiday. Lampard is believed to have received assurances from the owner, Roman Abramovich, in the period since that he will be given time to make a proper mark back at the club with Chelsea currently operating under a transfer embargo which will potentially extend through to the summer of 2020.
That will severely restrict the club’s ambitions in the market – they have secured Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic already this summer, having lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, and have a number of loanees who have returned – though Lampard has already expressed an eagerness to tap into the potential of the club’s youth-team set-up to bolster his options. His appointment is likely to be swiftly pursued by confirmation that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have signed new five-year deals at the club.
As well as roles for Morris and Jones, Lampard is expected to promote the highly regarded Joe Edwards, who has been working in the academy and under-23 set-up, and Eddie Newton to his backroom staff. The latter has more recently overseen the progress of the club’s battalion of loan players.
Lampard will take the skeleton squad who have already reported back for pre-season to Dublin on Friday, with his first game in charge to be Wednesday’s friendly against Bohemians at Dalymount Park, before a second fixture against St Patrick’s Athletic three days later.
A squad further reinforced by first-team players returning after extended summer breaks will then travel to Japan for subsequent games against Kawasaki Frontale and Barcelona before the end of the month. His first Premier League game in charge will be at Manchester United before Chelsea, as Europa League winners, compete in the European Super Cup against Liverpool in Istanbul.
Derby are expected to confirm the former Netherlands international Phillip Cocu as Lampard’s successor at Pride Park. The 48-year-old made an impressive transition from player to manager during his time in charge of PSV Eindhoven, and is a free agent after leaving the Turkish club, Fenerbahce, last October. – Guardian