Friday, July 11, 2008

Lampard Set on Inter And at Odds With Scolari

The new Chelsea boss had said he was free to go, save any last minute changes of plan. A disappointed Frank accused him of being a "liar", adding, "I can't work with a coach who lies to me from Day 1." But Chelsea chief Keynon says, "Lampard's staying".

MILAN, 10 July 2008 - Frank Lampard is never one to shirk his responsibilities, both on pitch and off. He takes penalties like a true blue and will write off a new manager, even on the first day if need be. His relationship with Felipe Scolari was an non-starter from Day 1: Lampard, the top scoring midfielder, feels betrayed and wants to call it a day at Chelsea. Inter is now the only option he will consider. Inter and Mourinho, that is, and the feeling's mutual. Conflicting versions of the saga are doing the rounds, with Lampard's version poles apart from Scolari's. This means Roman Abramovich and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon stand even less of a chance of persuading Lampard to stay in London.

PRESS CONFERENCE - At Tuesday's conference in London, everything seemed hunky dory. Scolari announced, "I spoke to Lampard on Monday to tell him how much I admire him as a man and a player. I told him I want him here at Chelsea and he said that he would like to stay for many years. We just have a few small details to sort out." Lampard's agent, Steve Kutner, on the other hand, was a little less less hearts and flowers in his statement: "Chelsea has put Frank in a very awkward position. He told Scolari he would like to end his career at Chelsea, but with the contract they've offered him, that would be impossible." Something is obviously amiss, and in all probability their talk didn't go quite like Big Phil's version of events.

BEHIND THE SCENES - What really happened? Lampard and Scolari talked a week ago before the new manager was signed on at Stamford Bridge. The midfielder asked to be released to go to Inter, bringing, in his mind, an end to his time at Chelsea. Scolari's reply went something like this: "Frank, I need you here, I want you to stay but I can't keep you here. If we sign Deco then you'll be free to go." With Deco then onboard to play for Chelsea, Lampard felt he was out of the woods. He speaks regularly with José Mourinho who is waiting to make him part of Inter's new midfield line-up. Scolari on the other hand, had a sudden change of tack.

U-TURN - Things started to go seriously wrong on Monday, 24 hours before the press conference. Scolari put Lampard in the picture: "you're staying at Chelsea". Incensed, the Blues captain hurled accusations at the Portuguese manager, calling him a "liar" and claiming, "There's no way I can stay at Chelsea. I can't work with a coach who lies to me from day 1. It's over." Worse was still to come when Lampard listened in disbelief to what Scolari had to say at Cobham. What now?

INTER STEP FORWARD - Lampard is now much closer to Inter, so much so that yesterday, Beppe Baresi, Mourinho's number 2, claimed, "Despite Chelsea's initial rejection of our first bid, I think negotiations are still on." It's highly unlikely Chelsea would be able to play with someone who had argued with the manager, who doesn't want to stay, and who would be up for free transfer within a year. At the same time, chances are Kenyon also wants to cash in on Mourinho and Moratti's burning desire for a star who, even at the age of 30, could still take the club to a new dimension.

STAND-OFF - You have to take all this into consideration to interpret the latest from Keynon, posted on the club's website yesterday: "The situation is ongoing. We have always maintained that we want Frank to stay and an offer was made to that effect. That offer is still on the table. Frank is under contract and he still has one year to run on that. We'd like to hope that we can reach an agreement but if we can't, we intend to keep him to see out the terms of his contract. If we receive a new bid, we will reject it".

Text Source: By Fabio Licari and Luca Taidelli,
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