Di Matteo hopes Lamps plays on
Blues boss happy with 'influential' midfielder
Last Updated: August 19, 2012 12:03pm
Frank Lampard: Entering the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is hopeful of contract talks with veteran midfielder Frank Lampard reaching a successful conclusion.
Lampard is entering the final year of his contract and revealed this week the club had yet to follow up last term's initial talks about a new deal.
The 34-year-old insisted he would "love" to stay on but there now appears to be a real prospect he could leave next summer.
Blues boss Di Matteo was coy about revealing whether he had recommended to the Chelsea board that Lampard was offered an extension but asked whether he was hopeful there would be a positive conclusion to any talks, he said: "I am, yes."
He added: "These are talks between the club and the player.
"I've been very happy with Frank and he shows his qualities that he has in every game that he plays, so a very influential player within the group as well."
Chelsea have shown a reluctance to offer players in their 30s anything longer than a one-year contract but Di Matteo has no fears about Lampard's ability to star at the highest level for some time to come.
"He's in good shape, he's not suffered any major injuries and he looks after himself," he said.
"We've seen that many players who live a professional life can go on and play up to their late 30s."
However, that will almost certainly involve the man who is closing in on becoming Chelsea's record goalscorer being used in a more withdrawn midfield role.
The Blues have an embarrassment of young, attacking talent in advanced areas but Di Matteo said: "I don't think we're going to change exactly everything there is about Frank and take his qualities away. We want to enhance his qualities within the team.
"He certainly has a little bit of a different role but we're still wanting to do what is best for him, trying to go forward and he's got good timing or arrival in the box and scores goals for us as well."
Lampard may also need to get used to having his game time rationed, something the midfielder took issue with last season and played a part in Andre Villas-Boas' demise as manager.
Di Matteo said: "We have a lot of competition in midfield - that is very good - but we have a lot of games as well and competitions that we're going to be playing in.
"So, there will be time for everybody and that's the situation for all the players."
He added: "He's an important player, Ramires is an important player, [Juan] Mata's an important, [John Obi] Mikel's an important player, [Michael] Essien.
"We can't think that we can only count on 11 players or 10 players."