Mourinho on departing star: He'll be back at Chelsea one day

The Portuguese boss has plenty of love for his departing vice-captain, and sees him returning to Stamford Bridge eventually.

With rumours swirling as to where Frank Lampard will next play his club football, with New York City and Loftus Road just two of the vastly different destinations mentioned, the only thing left to say about his Chelsea career is that it was hugely successful, and, Jose Mourinho reveals, likely to resume one day.

The former Real Madrid and Inter manager openly discussed just how much the England vice-captain has brought to the Blues, and stated he was more than welcome to return to the club whenever he wanted to, in whatever capacity, according to the wishes of both Mourinho and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

“It’s not the end of Frank’s career at Chelsea - it’s just a little break," said the Blues boss. "It’s the end of his career as a Chelsea player, but he will be back for many, many years because he’s one of the most important players in the club’s history.

“You can’t imagine how difficult it was for him to leave.

"I think only he knows because we spoke - not by phone, in person - but at the same time I can feel some happiness about the process because for sure he comes back to Chelsea one day. For sure.

“Everybody wants it, Mr Abramovich - the No.1, the most important person - wants very much Frank to be back, I want him to be back, the staff want him back, so he comes back for sure.

“He can be a coach, he can start at the academy, he can start being my assistant at the same time because he is doing his coaching badges, or he can start in a different role."

In Mourinho's eyes, Lampard is the best midfield player he has managed in his last 10 years of football management, reserving his choice superlative 'special' for the Chelsea record scorer.

“In terms of the players I have coached, he is my concept of the special midfield player.

"He is not just the best No.8 I’ve managed, but I have not seen a better one in the last decade.

“At the end of the day, in football the only objective is the numbers, and when you go to this man, look at the number of matches he has played, the number of goals he scored, the number of assists, the number of ball recoveries, the areas on the pitch he covered... he was the best for 10 years, not just for me."

As Lampard heads off for a new adventure at the twilight of his playing career, before an inevitable return to Stamford Bridge, the trick for Mourinho now will not just be replacing the player Frank Lampard, but also the character.

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