Frank Lampard cuts a frustrated figure these days.
Things on the pitch have not exactly gone according to plan, and results have been, at best, inconsistent. Things off the pitch haven’t been much better, with a barren January transfer window opening the door for the always lurking Palpable Discord narrative, all the while the expected six-month honeymoon/patience period has now fully run its course. We might scoff at all the prototypical impatient fan and hindsight-expert, but some of Lampard’s tactical and personnel decisions, before or even during games, are well within the bounds of reasonable criticism.
One of more minor sources of frustration — certainly as far as most of us armchair Einsteins are concerned — is Willian’s contract situation. The 31-year-old long-time servant to the club (second-most appearances in the squad after César Azpilicueta) is into the final few months of his contract, and unless a deal is agreed, he will be departing at the end of the season after seven years at the Bridge.
And by all appearances, that looks to be very much the case.
Chelsea have been concentrating on youth, both in terms of transfers and in terms of contract extensions, keeping the oldies around mostly as contingency plans. Willian has been one of the few exceptions to that rule, and in reflecting that importance, Chelsea have offered him a two-year extension.
But as Willian himself revealed just the other day, he wants a three-year deal, which would be just about unprecedented in club history for a player his age — certainly in the more modern era when we’ve been paying attention.
Those quotes have been taken (rather reasonably, which surely is a rarity in football media) as basically confirmation that Willian is leaving. But as far as Lampard’s concerned, that’s not the reality of the situation. He’s been picketing with a big new contract sign for Willian all season, and he’s not changing that narrative now! Ha ain’t no scab!
But he’s done so to practically no avail, or at least to very little tangible effect, and that just adds to the frustration.
“It’s an ongoing conversation. Maybe not ideal timing but I don’t want to get too drawn into it because I am the manager of the team and don’t want to look too far [ahead].
“Some of the headlines this week had a sense of frustration for me because we’re working day-to-day to finish this season and we’re not jumping ahead to the summer. Willy’s one is an ongoing situation. It’s not over. We’ll see.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
It’s not over until
it’s over we win may have defined Lampard’s playing career, but success in this case may not be as assured.
We’ll see, indeed.