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Lampard future first challenge for Scolari at Chelsea

SoccerNews in English Premier League 1 Jul 2008

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Luiz Felipe Scolari began life as Chelsea on new manager with the unresolved future of Frank Lampard sitting at the top of an overflowing in-tray.

Scolari has already secured his number one transfer target with former Barcelona star Deco having signed for the London club on Monday in a deal worth just over eight million pounds.

The arrival of the Portugal playmaker has however only served to fuel the uncertainty over whether fellow midfielder Lampard will remain at Stamford Bridge or opt to join former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

Lampard, 30, has only a year on his current contract left and there has been no progress towards an agreement on the long-term deal he says he wants to sign with Chelsea.

Scolari likes his teams to play entertaining football but it is hard to see how he could regularly find space for Lampard, Deco and Michael Ballack in the same midfield.

Despite claiming he would be happy to finish his career in west London, Lampard has in the past spoken of his desire to play abroad and he was close to Mourinho during the Portuguese coach's 2004-07 reign at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to bring Lampard to Italy but was quoted Tuesday as saying the move was more likely to take place once the player becomes a free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

“This season? I don't think so,” Mourinho told The Sun. “Why won't he? Well, it's not because we don't want him to, but I'm sure Chelsea and Chelsea's officials don't want to sell him.

“However for the next season it will be easier for him to join me at Inter. I'm 100 percent sure in 2009/2010 he will be playing here.”

Scolari has not yet held face-to-face talks with Lampard and the 30-year-old is on holiday in Italy until next week.

Deco, who turns 31 in August and had been declared surplus to requirements at Barcelona, has signed a two-year deal at Chelsea, and there is speculation that he will be joined in London by fellow Nou Camp misfits Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o.

Barca will feel they got a good price for a player whose best years may be behind him, although the player's value was enhanced as he outshone Cristiano Ronaldo with his performances for Portugal at Euro 2008.

The Brazilian-born midfielder, who won the Champions League with FC Porto in 2004 and with Barca two years later, has set his sights on completing a hat-trick of triumphs in club football's biggest competition with his new employers.

“I am sure I have come at the right time to do great things,” he said. “I want to be able to help Chelsea go back to the way it was and come back to being the first one, not only in England but also to win the Champions League that has been their dream for so long.”

Deco added: “It is great that we have so many great players here at Chelsea and it is great that there is the competition which is healthy for everybody and this just makes the team better.

“I know I need a little bit of time to adapt but I am sure I will adapt quite well and quite fast.”

Deco was Chelsea's second signing of the summer following the capture of Portugal's attacking right-back Jose Bosingwa prior to Euro 2008.

Bosingwa's arrival could pave the way for the departure of Paulo Ferreira and there is also uncertainty over the future of another Portugal defender, Ricardo Carvalho.

Rumours the centreback may also be looking to link up with Mourinho again have been fuelled by comments from Brazil defender Alcides, who has said he has been told his current loan spell at PSV Eindhoven is to be ended because he is needed to replace Carvalho.

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