The Blues boss weighed in on the most recent quotes to come out of his winger about his long term future at the club.
Frank Lampard says the timing was not “perfect” on Willian’s interview about his contract situation and insists that no decisions have been made on his Chelsea players’ potential yet.
Willian gave an interview to the Brazilian press this week where the 31-year-old revealed he could leave Chelsea because he’s not being offered the three-year contract he wants.
The Blues boss refused to clarify whether the remarks about the talks were accurate, although he did state that negotiations are ongoing and no conclusions have been made yet over the future of some of his group.
“It is an ongoing conversation,” Lampard told reporters. “Maybe not perfect timing but I do not want to get too drawn into it since I’m the manager of the group and don’t need to appear too much [ahead].
“Some of the headlines this week had a feeling of frustration for me since we are working day-to-day to complete this season and we are not jumping ahead to summertime. Willy’s one is a continuing situation. It is not over. We’ll see.”
This comes amid Chelsea being on the brink of a Champions League exit, with their top-four position securely in the equilibrium and an FA Cup tie to come next week against Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori hasn’t played one minute of Premier League action in 2020 despite being a regular starter for Lampard in 2019.
The 22-year-old had been among those breakthrough stars this season combined with Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James, but he’s been relegated to the bench or even the stands lately.
Lampard says he has a tricky task picking a centre-back out of his choices which have Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma. He thinks that Tomori has a part to play despite not playing in the league since December.
“I’ve got four centre-backs to select from, so generally each week two of them are unhappy,” Lampard added. “And people question you once you stick with a back two or back three. There’s competition in that area.
“With Fiks, he constantly must train in the top level, that goes for all the young players because when you’re out of the group, however much it hurts, you want to show a fantastic attitude and train really well.
“At the moment he is and he’s got a long career ahead of him at this bar, no doubt. It has been more about selection difficulties.”
Chelsea are now going into an off trip to Bournemouth, who’ve strung together three wins in a row against the Blues and are wanting to make it four on Saturday afternoon.
Lampard is needing to lift up his team for a visit to the south shore and stays under pressure with each team down to tenth place coveting their place in the top four.
He considers that his young players have left a large effect on the squad this year but he believes that the perception that Chelsea have a divine right to be in the top table of soccer is false.
“Sometimes it has been the young lads earlier this year who have awakened and that was great,” Lampard continued. “And sometimes they’ve had it difficult. So I really don’t get too caught up in that dialog.
“Maturity will come for them, that is why we must give them some leeway this year. For Mason and Reece on Tuesday night it was a massive game for them in terms of their learning curve.
“I did not 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 in their age. Reece was playing Wigan at the Championship and Mason was at Derby with myself.
“And now they’re going up against Thiago as well as the flying machine Davies from Bayern, who’s an incredible looking participant – and Gnabry too. It was a massive test. Make no bones about it. It was a hard night for them.
“It is not only those players. Kovacic has been into the final with Real Madrid, Azpi has been into the semi-final here. But if you go through the remainder of the starting eleven, there are players that are new to Champions League football – with Ross that I think it was his first playoff point – or they’re players that have got to the last 16.
“We must be real, we must be honest. We can not pull the wool over our own eyes and believe all of a sudden we have a divine right at this level to go up against Bayern Munich and beat them.
“There is a reason why we’re where we are in the present time. We haven’t contested in the Premier League for a few years. We must fight and work as hard as we can on the training pitch and in games to close this gap.
“Come summertime, we would like to proceed and make some decisions. However, the gap is there. Tuesday showed that. But that shouldn’t dishearten us now it is the way we finish the season.
“I think that the landscape of the Premier League has changed. Man City and Liverpool have put incredible criteria in the league, and we had some external influences with the ban and with circumstance, an enormous participant left the club.
“Those things are there. We’re certainly on the same page when I talk with the board and we have all our discussions, there isn’t any doubt we know we’re battling for fourth place.
“It is a really dated phrase, when folks say:’You are Chelsea, there is no way you should be satisfied with fourth’. No, the Premier League has shifted. It isn’t like it was for Manchester United players 15 or even 20 years back, or even Chelsea players when we were first or second for a time in the mid-2000s.
“It is not like that anymore and are the reality. We do need to climb and bridge the gap and I strongly believe we will. But I am quite conscious of everything that is. The players will need to be aware of it and we are as a club.”