Chelsea boss Frank Lampard hopes he’ll have the same (or even better) arsenal of players he had all season when the Premier League returns, but accepts that the fate of loan and out-of-contract players is out of his hands.
Contracts and loans were drawn up to expire on June 30, but the coronavirus pandemic has obviously extended the season in a fashion that begs whether new contracts will address team calendars and not the world’s 12-month schedule. The Premier League has a plan. Lampard says the agreement must have individual player alignment.
There’s a June 23 deadline for players to agree to stay with the club beyond the 30th; FIFA gave the green light to the idea earlier in the coronavirus pause.
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Chelsea mainstays Pedro, Willian, and Willy Caballero are out-of-contract this summer, all having played significant roles occasionally if not during the entire season.
“We have big players in that position so that’s obviously something I’m looking at very carefully,” the boss said. “The ones out of contract here have been great servants for the club and actually have a lot of feeling for the club, but of course they will be concerned about themselves in terms of how they are now, and if pre-season is rushed they’ll want to make sure they’re alright. So it’s going to have to be something we look at. Hopefully we can have that arrangement so they can stay with us because if we play again I would love the squad to look as it’s looked all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”
Willian had seven goals and six assists in over 2500 minutes, sometimes acting as the driver of the offense. He expressed a desire to outlast his contract in March, but this pause has affected many mindsets around the world.
Pedro has battled numerous injuries but has two goals and three assists in 18 matches, while Caballero started nine matches including six-straight when Kepa Arrizabalaga fell out of favor with Lampard.
If those players left, that would open the door of speculation even wider when it comes to Hakim Ziyech. Can he join the club from July 1, as his Eredivisie season has been completed with a third-straight Ajax Player of the Year Award?
Lampard also discussed the challenges of returning to training, saying he hopes to have the boys back on the pitch in “the middle of the week” should the Premier League signal the go-ahead on Monday.