Chelsea head Inter off at the pass where their star midfielder is concerned

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Despite the acquisition of Deco this summer, there’s nothing quite like having players who are tried and tested in the Premier League. Frank Lampard certainly falls into that bracket and, despite attracting criticism for his England performances over the past few seasons, the midfielder has generally been a revelation for the Blues, playing an integral part in their silverware success.

The Guardian will therefore make for pleasant reading today if you’re a Chelsea fan, with the broadsheet reporting that the player will be plying his trade at Stamford Bridge next season – unless something goes badly wrong. The likeable Jose Mourinho has graciously held up his hands and admitted defeat in his quest to land his former charge – that’s very noble of you sir. Now Lampard’s current club are making sure of his services by slapping the praise on like a bad boy.

Inter’s manager, Jose Mourinho, conceded last night that it would be “difficult” for his club to conclude a deal for Lampard before the end of next month. He suggested the 30-year-old might instead sign a pre-contract agreement with the Italian club in January. “For Lampard, it will be easier to play with Chelsea until the end of his contract rather than break it now, all of a sudden,” he said. “It seems to me difficult for him to be able to come here now. It’s easier that he comes next season.”

Scolari’s purchase of Deco last month seemed to threaten directly Lampard’s position in the team but the Brazilian insisted yesterday that he envisaged the Englishman playing a key role. “I have spoken to Frank every day,” he said. “We have spoken about how to win games with Chelsea and no more. We talk about Chelsea, about what’s the best way for Chelsea to play and what’s the best position for him when he is training with the other players. The most important thing is that he is here with us.”

Fantasy football managers will now be adding the midfielder to their shortlist for the coming season, such is his ability to land points for goals scored and assists made. But will his first team appearances be severely reduced now that Deco is on the scene? There’s also Ballack chomping at the bit to get involved in the middle of the park and Scolari might also want to pick a defensive midfielder unless he decides to be extraordinarily gung-ho.

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