Lampard refuses to play ball

Chelsea midfielder declined to comment on speculation that he had agreed a contract extension with Chelsea

 Frank Lampard warm down after training session at the Amsterdam Arena. Photograph:  Nick Potts/PA Wire

Frank Lampard warm down after training session at the Amsterdam Arena. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire


Chelsea today declined to comment on reports that midfielder Frank Lampard has agreed a new one-year contract to extend his 12-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard, who joined from West Ham in 2001 and whose current deal expires at the end of the season, is poised to captain Chelsea in tonight’s Europa League final with Benfica in Amsterdam in the likely absence of John Terry.

The future of the England midfielder, who will be 35 in June, has been shrouded in uncertainty, but after surpassing the club’s goalscoring record last Saturday a conclusion is close.

Speaking last week, prior to netting his 202nd and 203rd Chelsea goals in the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa, Lampard said: “I’ve always said that I wanted to spend all of my career here so I think everyone knows that.”

It is possible tonight’s match could be Lampard’s last in Europe for the Blues, whose 69-game competitive season concludes at home to Everton on Sunday.

Speaking on the eve of the match, he refused to contemplate the future.

Lampard, who overtook Bobby Tambling’s 43-year-old mark of 202 goals with his double at Villa Park, said: “I don’t know what the future exactly holds, but it doesn’t matter. It’s about winning the game. All of us here want to win this for Chelsea.”

If Lampard, who has been linked with moves to Los Angeles Galaxy, among others, is granted an extension, it could see a reunion with Jose Mourinho, who has been strongly linked with a return to Stamford Bridge as manager this summer.

The influence of Chelsea’s most established stars, who made their names under Mourinho, has lessened this season, less than a year after the Champions League triumph in Munich.

Terry has struggled for full fitness and to claim a place in the side, his ankle injury the latest blow.

The 32-year-old defender’s contract expires at the end of next season.

Ashley Cole, who in February signed a 12-month contract extension, is a first-team regular, but has been injured for parts of the campaign.

Lampard has not been selected for some of Chelsea’s most important matches — including the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City — as Chelsea’s congested schedule has necessitated rotation by interim boss Rafael Benitez.

Nevertheless Lampard, who now is often deployed in a deep-lying midfield role, has scored 17 times this season.

He hopes to emulate the longevity of Manchester United duo Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. “I’d love to carry on as long as I feel I can do and I feel I’m fit,” Lampard said last week.

“I’d love to do that, for another three or four years. I’d love to emulate those boys. Ryan Giggs [has] got an aura around him. All the players at the club look up to him. He’s the mark.”

Lampard also spoke of the collective desire for Chelsea to compete for the Barclays Premier League title once more, suggesting he has the ambition to continue performing for the Blues.

“I’d love us to be up there again fighting to win leagues,” he said.

“One thing we’ve lacked in the last two or three years has been consistency, league wise. That’s what we need to get back.”