Chelsea poised to offer Frank Lampard chance to return as manager

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard would be welcomed with open arms by most Chelsea fans Credit: PA

Chelsea are working on a romantic return for Frank Lampard as head coach, with the Stamford Bridge club poised to offer him the chance to replace Maurizio Sarri.

Derby County are resigning themselves to losing Lampard, with thoughts already turning to who his replacement might be and sources close to Chelsea believe the appointment of the 40-year-old is now inevitable.

The compensation worth over £5million Chelsea have secured from Juventus for Sarri will more than cover the £4m it will take to buy Lampard out of his Derby contract.

Barring any hitches, Lampard will be asked to bring the feel-good factor back to Stamford Bridge, while the former midfielder will be keen to find out what Chelsea’s on-pitch expectations of him would be, following the sale of Eden Hazard and the two-window transfer ban that is due to start this summer.

But he would find it incredibly difficult to turn down the club he spent 13 years at as a player, during which time he became Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer.

Despite some doubts over his relative lack of experience, following just a year in charge of Derby in the Championship, Lampard would be treated as a returning hero by the club’s match-going fans.

And he would also be welcomed by the majority of the players, with the youngsters excited they will be given a greater chance and those unhappy under Sarri hoping for a fresh start.

Maurizio Sarri's tenure will not be fondly remembered despite his success on the pitch Credit: getty images

That is a big factor for owner Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board who were stung by the disconnect that quickly became evident during Sarri’s reign in which fans chanted for his sacking and revolted against his style of play.

There was also internal displeasure over how individuals such as captain Gary Cahill and Victor Moses, two players who had recently won titles with Chelsea, were frozen out with little or no explanation.

Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp are two managers who members of the Chelsea hierarchy have admired for the way in which they have harnessed the support of the Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool fans, and developed a strong spirit within their squads.

That is something that Lampard, together with Petr Cech who is returning in a technical role, will be expected to quickly put right for Chelsea.

Despite qualifying for the Champions League with a third-placed Premier League finish and winning the Europa League, Sarri worked under a cloud for much of his 12 months at the club.

Match-going supporters did not enjoy his style of football or demeanour, while the Italian also made himself unpopular with a number of players thanks to his stubborn attitude and superstitions.

Other than Cahill and Moses, Marcos Alonso grew unhappy under Sarri and Chelsea now face a fight to stop the left-back returning to Spain.

Sarri’s off-pitch behaviour caused issues for the club, as Chelsea were fined on at least two occasions for his late arrival for press conferences as he ignored appeals to cut short dressing-room inquests.

And his smoking and habit of chewing cigarette butts on the touchline were not seen as a good image for such a big club to portray.

Chelsea would have no such problems with Lampard, whose clean-cut image appears to suit them much better, and he would be given plenty of time by the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Lampard would be keen to take his assistant Jody Morris, former Chelsea fitness coach Chris Jones and Derby’s head of performance analysis Steve Rands with him to his old club.

Gianfranco Zola's future at Chelsea remains uncertain Credit: REUTERS

Gianfranco Zola, who acted as assistant to Sarri, is unsure over his future. The club are reluctant to sack a former player who was so well liked, but he may be offered a role away from the first-team unless Lampard wants the 52-year-old as part of his staff.

One player who seems to be heading to Juventus with Sarri is Gonzalo Higuain, whose brother appears to have confirmed he will not return to Chelsea next season.

Higuain spent an unsuccessful period on loan at Chelsea during the second half of the season, but his agent-brother Nicolas said: “I want to clarify that we haven’t talked to anyone else. My brother’s also under contract with Juve. Gonzalo wants to respect his contract and therefore stay with Juventus for another two years.

“His performances at Juve have been good and playing for another team in Italy isn’t a workable solution. I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but if Gonzalo plays in Italy again then he only will for Juve, who own him.

“I think this could be Gonzalo’s year. He has so much strength and determination, and he wants to end his career at Juve.”