Frank Lampard has confirmed there is still a possibility Willian could be a Chelsea player for the 2020/21 season.
The in-form Brazilian, who has scored five goals in his past six appearances, signed a short-term contract last month that ensures he can play for the Blues until the end of the current campaign but after that, his future is uncertain.
‘I haven’t given up hope on it,’ said Lampard on the subject of a new contract for Willian beyond that.
‘The club are still in discussions with him. We want him to stay but I also appreciate the fact this contract for Willian is a big deal because of his age. I have been there before myself, but the way he is playing at the moment shows his worth to the squad and I hope it is something we can get to.
‘Whichever way, he has been a great servant to the club and if we can get there, I’ll be happy. If not, I will certainly wish him well as I have a lot of time for him and in the short term, we can see what he is doing for us.’
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The question over Willian’s long-term availability plus the focus on the rest of 2019/20 means Lampard does not want to discuss further potential signings in the attacking department at this stage, with Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner already recruited.
‘At the moment we are working towards trying to finish off this season and trying to be better in front of goal in the next six games, with the FA Cup included. And the players here can improve and we work towards that all the time. We will take a view on that and similarly defensively. I have to focus on the players here now and what happens in the summer will be what happens. I don’t want to talk too far in the future. We have a strong group here, we have a job to do and we will sit down and look at it in the break.’
That could include recruiting players to add height to the squad after Lampard admitted after the West Ham defeat that playing sides with a height advantage does cause his current side difficulties.
‘We have looked at set-plays this season,’ he said. ‘When we came into the club we looked at the stats from last season and last season we were bottom of the league in terms of defending set-plays and in terms of other teams getting big chances against us. We were second bottom in attacking [with set-plays]. We looked at that and it is not a reference to last season only as we haven’t improved much this year.
‘If you look at personnel, I really don’t like to talk about my days playing but we didn’t really work so much on set-pieces. We did with certain managers more than others and probably there were a few reasons why but they were mainly John Terry, Gary Cahill, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Branislav Ivanovic. You stick it in an area and they would defend it or score goals.
‘Similarly with Liverpool, I remember a lot of talk about them defending set-pieces two or three seasons ago. They were zonal, they conceded a lot, they signed Virgil van Dijk and he heads out everything that comes into the box.
‘So there is a huge relation to personnel and if you don’t have that in terms of a big size across the team, trying to compete as hard as you can and make it difficult for other teams to score is the main thing. I am not making an excuse when I say this as we have not done that well enough on the pitch and that has to improve. When you look at who you might bring in, and the balance of the squad, in the modern day it is certainly something to take into account when you are looking at recruitment.’
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