In an era where footballers have the power to force transfers, Chelsea are refusing to buckle in the long-running saga over Frank Lampard's future. The England midfielder, who has a year left on his contract, is seeking a new lucrative five-year deal worth around £140,000-per week to stay at Stamford Bridge - otherwise he is likely to head to Inter Milan.
After having a £7.95 million (Dh58m) offer rejected, the Italian champions are set to make a renewed bid to force Chelsea's hand to sell him now or lose him on a free transfer next summer. It is a difficult predicament for the Blues, but as they have the financial muscle to cope with any loss, they are determined not to be pushed around by anyone. As the new coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, outlined yesterday they want Lampard to stay, but on their terms, with a four-year contract on the table for a man who is 30. And despite Inter's pursuit, Peter Kenyon, the club's chief executive, said they will force Lampard to see out the remainder of his deal if he does not sign a new contract.
"The situation is ongoing," he said. "We have always maintained that we want Frank to stay and an offer was made to that effect. "That offer is still on the table. Frank is under contract and he still has one year to run on that. We'd like to reach an agreement, but if we can't we have always worked on the basis that Frank sees out the terms of his contract. "Chelsea have made their position very clear to Internazionale and they have come back now with a financial offer. That will be rejected.
"Contrary to what you may have read it is totally untrue that Felipe was pushing the club or putting pressure on us to change the offer to Frank. "At no stage was he ever in conflict with the club's position or asked the board or the owner to change the offer." Kenyon also said there was no interference in team affairs from the owner, Roman Abramovich. "Roman has invested not only money but time and emotional investment in Chelsea and he has every right to know how we come to decisions, the thought processes that go into those decisions and so forth," he added.
"People misunderstand that for meddling or interfering. It is not. He likes to be engaged because he loves football and he much prefers that engagement to be voluntary. "Felipe made it clear he wants an open relationship and that is not a problem for him. Maybe in the past that didn't happen. There's nothing wrong with the manager and the owner doing that and Felipe was more than happy with the fact that this is one of the dynamics of Chelsea.
"People read all sorts of things into why he [Roman] is not at this match or that match. It's irrelevant, because believe me no matter where he is he takes a huge interest." One player definitely on his way out of Chelsea is Steve Sidwell, who is joining Aston Villa for around £5 million. He is seen as a midfield replacement for Villa's wantaway captain Gareth Barry, who will move to Liverpool once the clubs can agree a fee.