Frank Lampard is set to seal a remarkable comeback as Chelsea manager, returning to Stamford Bridge as interim boss until the end of the season.
The PA news agency understands the 44-year-old has held talks with the west London club and is on the verge of rubberstamping his return, which could come in time for Saturday’s clash against Wolves.
Chelsea sacked Graham Potter on Sunday after another damaging defeat to Aston Villa left them 11th in the Premier League and, with a permanent appointment not likely to come before the end of the campaign, an unexpected reunion with the club’s record goalscorer has been agreed.
Lampard, who starred for the Blues as a free-scoring midfielder between 2001 and 2014, landed his dream job as Chelsea manager in July 2019 but was dismissed 18 months later after a 10-match winless run took the gloss off a promising first season. He went on to take over Everton but lost that job in January after less than a year in charge.
PA understands that one potential front-runner for the full-time job, ex-Spain coach Luis Enrique, flew into London on Wednesday to meet with club officials as the hunt for a permanent appointment began in earnest. The in-demand Julian Nagelsmann, sacked recently by Bayern Munich, is also thought to be a contender but there are said to be possible contractual complications to address.
Lampard was in the stands to witness Chelsea’s goalless draw against Liverpool on Tuesday, their first outing since Potter’s removal, foreshadowing his return in a more formal capacity.
Lampard’s cousin Jamie Redknapp believes the move makes sense for both parties in the current circumstances. The former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder even suggested that steering the Blues to Champions League glory, replicating the achievement of Lampard’s old team-mate Roberto Di Matteo in 2012, was possible.
“He loves the club, nobody cares about the club or knows it better than he does,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“This is a complete no-brainer if Chelsea were to go for him and Frank takes the job. It would be brilliant for him. This might make sense for the owners, just to give themselves a bit of breathing space.
“Frank will look at this if he takes the job and think what an opportunity it is for him. They’ve got a Champions League game (quarter-final) to come against Real Madrid and people say it’s almost impossible. Roberto Di Matteo did it, won it as interim manager, stranger things have happened in football.”
News of Lampard’s return comes after coach Bruno Saltor, who took temporary charge against Liverpool, said Chelsea’s co-sporting directors have met with the players to explain the club’s strategy in their search for a new manager.
Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart addressed the squad at the team’s Cobham training base on Monday to brief them on the circumstances surrounding Potter’s removal and plans for the immediate future.
The pair are leading the recruitment process to find a replacement for Potter, who was sacked after only 31 games in charge.
Saltor said that, in the meantime, the club are keen to keep the playing staff up to date with developments.
“They (Winstanley and Stewart) are trying to describe the situation, trying to be supportive with the players,” said Saltor.
“It’s not an easy situation for anyone. What we need to do is just be together, communicate well. That’s what they tried.”