Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, said yesterday he could not make promises over the future of Frank Lampard. The veteran midfielder has been in and out of the side this season, and has only 18 months remaining on his contract. Villas-Boas revealed the club has not yet decided whether to offer Lampard a new deal, and that his selection policy "cannot please everybody".
Lampard's deal expires at the end of next season, and Villas-Boas said Lampard's agent had been in touch regarding a new contract, but the club is yet to make a decision. "What I know from what Ron Gourlay [Chelsea chief executive] said is that Steve Kuttner [Lampard's agent] contacted him," Villas-Boas said. "I'm not sure of the situation, we've not decided yet." Lampard's camp said last night, though, that they were relaxed about the situation.
After the 2-1 win over Manchester City on Monday, Lampard – who was a substitute – said Villas-Boas had not explained his relegation to the bench. But the Portuguese said yesterday that Lampard is not entitled to special treatment. "There are plenty of players pushing for selection and Frank is not the only one," he said. "We've had conversations with all players. We treat all players equally. The club's direction and fortune are the most important thing."
Villas-Boas does not see making every member of his squad happy a priority. "Every player must be treated equally and as fairly as possible," he said. "We make choices that can't please everybody. We have a 24-man squad and all are pushing for selection." The new manager was similarly equivocal over the future of another veteran of Jose Mourinho's side, Didier Drogba. "There is no update," he said of the striker's contract talks. "We have been discussing week-in, week-out. It is ongoing and we hope to solve it. Whatever the outcome there is no question of Didier's professionalism. It's not just my decision. The decision is between two parties and we have to wait."
Villas-Boas was surprisingly positive, though, about the future of Fernando Torres. The Chelsea manager insisted that his £50m striker was "not available at any price", and even said the club could afford as poor a 2012 from him as this year has been.
Since arriving for a British record fee from Liverpool at the end of the January transfer window, Torres has scored just five goals in 22 appearances. But when asked whether Chelsea could afford another year of such a poor return on their investment, Villas-Boas was relaxed. "I think so," he said. "This is a talent that's never in doubt but related to motivation. We have to be patient and turn it round."
While Drogba is currently Chelsea's first-choice striker, Villas-Boas insisted that Torres' return to form was a matter of time. "He will come back," he said. "We are confident of that. It comes from self-confidence, motivation and hitting the back of the net. It happened in the first two or three months of the season. It's been Didier's run but we are confident he will come back."
When asked, Villas-Boas clarified that by "motivation" he meant the confidence that comes with scoring goals. "Putting the ball in the net more often," he explained. "Motivation in the sense of the way you feel on the pitch and the goals you score. The player wearing the No 9 on his back lives for goals. Fernando and Didier can tell you that. Strikers are the most selfish people in the world and rightly so because they put the ball in the net."