Pep Guardiola claim made about Frank Lampard Chelsea return as Maurizio Sarri nears exit

That’s the verdict of Rio Ferdinand, who says Lampard’s time working with the club’s youth team and his knowledge of the club could be crucial. 

Express Sport understands Lampard is on a six-man shortlist alongside Max Allegri, Watford’s Javi Gracia, Wolves tactician Nuno Espirito Santo, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and assistant England national team manager Steve Holland, who worked as assistant at Chelsea for four years until the end of the 2016-17 season.

Chelsea’s decision is being delayed by the time it is taking Sarri’s exit to be agreed. Reports in Italy claim that Sarri’s departure is imminent with the Italian set to return to Serie A and take up the post of Juventus head coach, which Allegri vacated, although he has been expected to leave Chelsea for two weeks.

Just as it was with his move from Napoli to Chelsea only a year ago, compensation has proven a sticking point with Sarri still having a year left on his £5.35million-a-season Stamford Bridge contract.

Though it was initially believed Chelsea would be the ones to terminate their working relationship with Sarri, it is now suggested they want Juventus to pay up the final year of his deal in west London.

The 60-year-old has however agreed a three-year deal with the Turin outfit, where he will get the chance to work with Cristiano Ronaldo, and his move is a case of when and not if.

Chelsea have long been linked with a move to appoint legendary midfielder and all-time top goalscorer Lampard, although he has only just finished his first 12 months as a senior manager after his Derby County side were beaten by Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final last month.

Yet former Manchester United defender Ferdinand, who played with Lampard at West Ham and for England, thinks that though Lampard’s managerial career is still beginning, he can be a success at his former club just as Pep Guardiola was with Barca having taken over the senior squad after years as an academy coach.

If they want to change that there is no-one but Frank. He is the perfect choice.

Rio Ferdinand

The Catalan went on to win 14 trophies in four years at the Nou Camp, including two Champions League titles, with his Barca side among the most revered in football history.

Ferdinand told The Telegraph: “If Chelsea are going to get a transfer ban I don’t think they can look anywhere but Frank. He and [Derby assistant manager and former Chelsea youth coach] Jody [Morris] know all the kids from 16 upwards. 

“Chelsea have had the best young kids in the country for a while now and none of them get in the first team. If they want to change that there is no-one but Frank.

“He is the perfect choice. People talk about experience but what experience did Pep [Guardiola] have when he went into [the] Barcelona first team? He trained the younger kids at the club. Frank knows the club and the players will respect him.”

Ferdinand thinks Lampard’s approach to youth is exactly what Chelsea have been crying out for with a number of the club’s promising academy prospects having been denied first-team opportunities in recent years.

“I will actually be surprised if they look elsewhere,” the BT Sport pundit added. “They have tried with all these great managers. 

“No disrespect to [Massimiliano] Allegri and what he’s done at Juventus but they have had Carlo Ancelotti, they have had Antonio Conte, Sarri, Jose Mourinho, all managers who have done great things and never stuck with them. 

“Are they going to continue doing that? And keep blowing money away with these managers who you have to pay up after two years?

“Or are you going with someone who the fans will love to have back. Someone who the young players are going to say, ‘Frank is going to play us.’ He played [Mason] Mount every game he was fit, he played [Harry] Wilson every game he was fit. He trusts kids. 

“His first season under mad pressure at Derby, he played all the kids. So he invigorates not only the first-team and the fans but the kids coming through. At a time when managers are scared and under pressure not to play kids I think it will be refreshing.”

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