Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Benitez in the dark on Lampard contract talks

SoccerNews in English Premier League 8 Feb 2013

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Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has refused to be drawn on whether midfielder Frank Lampard will be offered a new contract.

It had appeared Lampard would leave when his deal expired at the end of this season, with the club apparently unwilling to retain the 34-year-old midfielder.

But Chelsea’s position has softened, with talks on an extension understood to have begun.

“Frank is doing a great job for us, he’s scoring goals, he’s playing well, he’s a good professional and he’s working very hard,” Benitez said.

“But that’s all I can say because I’m the coach. The club doesn’t discuss the other issues. Hopefully he can break the Chelsea scoring record and I will be pleased.”

Lampard has scored 13 goals for Chelsea this term and showed his scoring prowess once again in England’s midweek friendly with Brazil.

He needs just five more goals to equal Chelsea’s all-time scoring record.

Benitez is having to perform a balancing act with Demba Ba and Fernando Torres competing to lead the line.

“It’s not that I’m rotating because I want to, it’s because I have to,” Benitez said.

“Tactically, because of the quality of the players behind them and also because Demba Ba cannot play Europa League, we have to manage both in every game.

“Obviously this week with Demba Ba’s nose injury … we have to analyse in a different way. If we can play both sometimes we will do it, but with the players behind, it would be difficult so we have to play one or the other.

The west London club are without a league victory in four attempts, prompting questions about the future of the Spanish coach, but he is focused on solving the problems on the pitch.

“We know the problems and we are working on the solutions. We cannot make mistakes like we did against Newcastle where you score two goals and still lose; you have to control the game,” Benitez said.

Chelsea welcome Wigan Athletic to Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they look to return to winning ways.

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