Avram Grant implied yesterday that Frank Lampard was demanding more money than Chelsea are willing to pay him over his new contract. With one year left after the end of this season on his present deal, negotiations have stalled.
In public both sides insist that they will find a resolution although the indications are that Chelsea are prepared for Lampard to leave rather than cave in to his demands. The England international is believed to currently earning £115,000-a-week and is asking for parity with the top earner, captain John Terry, who is thought to be paid around £135,000-a-week.
When asked about the impasse at yesterday's press briefing ahead of today's away game against Manchester City, Grant told reporters: "If you want to stay on your newspaper and your newspaper doesn't want you, then you will not stay. But if your newspaper wants you and you want to stay, then it's a matter of money. Maybe you think you deserve more, maybe they think you deserve less. Everyone thinks they should deserve more and for a player it's ok, it's reasonable.
"In every club in the world there is negotiation between the club and big players. But as long they want each other I think, at the end of the day, they will find a way. I'm happy that both sides want each other. I know the club wants Frank and Frank wants to stay."
Lampard revealed his frustration over the lack of progress on a new deal last month when, after scoring four goals against Derby, he questioned Chelsea's commitment in wanting to keep him. Certainly the club appear not to have shown the same speed in tying him down as they did over their talks with Terry last year.
Chelsea are also resigned, it appears, to losing Didier Drogba, who wants to go, and the search has started for a high-class replacement to play alongside Nicolas Anelka. If Lampard did go, it would allow Michael Ballack a greater role although Chelsea are extremely sensitive as to how they will handle the departure should it come to that.
Grant said he had spoken to Lampard after Wednesday Champions League tie defeat to Fenerbahce, during which the player was substituted only to throw his boots down in frustration. However, Grant said he was unperturbed by the actions, adding: "I spoke to him about the game because everyone was disappointed."