The uncertainty surrounding Frank Lampard's future at Chelsea appears to be over after the player's agent said that the midfielder would "in no circumstances" be offered a fresh contract to stay beyond this season.
Steve Kutner's assertion comes after reports emerged following Chelsea's 5-1 FA Cup victory over Southampton on Saturday, during which Lampard scored to become the club's joint-second all-time record scorer with Kerry Dixon on 193 goals, that the Stamford Bridge hierarchy had changed their long-held stance and decided to try to keep the 34-year-old for another year at least, possibly by agreeing a deal that would see the player take a reduction in his £150,000-a-week-salary. But that, according to Kutner, is definitely not the case.
"Chelsea executives told Frank in Japan during the Club World Cup, then again reconfirmed with me after the Everton victory [both in December], that in no circumstances will he be offered a new contract to stay at the club after the end of this season," said Kutner. "Nothing since has changed in any respect. Frank has had to accept that and just wants to carry on playing football for Chelsea so as to finish the season as successfully as possible for the club that he loves."
Kutner's revelation, which comes days after he denied telling the Italian website Cittaceleste.it that Lampard would definitely be leaving Chelsea, will come as a blow to the club's supporters who have made clear their desire to see the midfielder remain in west London.
Lampard has also made no secret of his desire to stay at Chelsea, whom he joined from West Ham for £11m in 2001 and has helped win three Premier League titles and the Champions League. He remains free, however, to speak to other clubs about a summer transfer, with LA Galaxy among those linked with a move for the England international.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © wonker