Lampard hints at Chelsea exit
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) –
Chelsea star Frank Lampard has indicated that this season may be his last for the English giants, in comments likely to fuel speculation about a move to China.
The England international midfielder, who has been at Chelsea since 2001, has been linked since March with a move to the Chinese Super League and last month Guizhou Renhe confirmed they were in talks with him.
His contract is due to expire in June and following his side’s 3-1 win over Monterrey on Thursday to reach the Club World Cup final in Japan, Lampard said he has yet to be approached by Chelsea with an extension, Kyodo reported.
“The ball is in Chelsea’s court. I’m a Chelsea player as simple as that,” he said.
“I’ve had a great, great time here,” he said, but added: “Maybe things don’t last forever.”
Lampard has been recovering from injury and came on as a substitute in the 63rd minute against Monterrey. The 34-year-old said he felt he could compete at the highest level for a while yet.
“I’m not the kind of player to see out my time and sit with my bum on the bench too much. I want to be involved. That’s my character. I will keep trying to do that, whatever the circumstances.
“I can’t predict anything but I feel like I have two or three years at least in me at the top level,” Lampard told the Japanese agency.
“It is not for me to decide on this one. It’s up to the club. Whatever happens, I have had a great time at Chelsea. I am determined to play a few more years and see what pans out in the near future.”
China has become an attractive destination for football stars approaching the end of their careers and Lampard’s future may lie in the Chinese Super League where former teammates Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka ply their trade.
In November Renhe deputy board chairman Yang Xiaoyu told AFP that the club was “in contact with Lampard but so far nothing has been settled”.
The 2013-14 Chinese Super League season begins in March with Renhe also due to compete in the AFC Champions League for the first time.
Ivory Coast striker Drogba and former France international Anelka play for Shanghai Shenhua on contracts said to be worth $300,000 a week.