Chelsea's interim manager, Rafa Benitez, last night saluted the impact of Demba Ba, who scored twice in his team's 5-1 destruction of Southampton, while the club revealed for the first time they are involved in negotiations aimed at keeping Frank Lampard at the club beyond the end of the season.
A club source, denying a newspaper story that the England midfielder had been asked to accept a massive reduction in wages, said: "The subject of a pay cut has never been raised or discussed in any of the recent conversations between the club, the players or his agent."
The revelation of ongoing talks will be welcomed by Chelsea supporters who again sung: "Sign him up, sign him up" when Lampard emerged as a second-half substitute at St Mary's, where the Blues began the defence of their trophy with an emphatic win. The 34-year-old scored the fifth from the penalty spot to become the club's joint-record goalscorer in the FA Cup and leave him only nine goals adrift of Bobby Tambling in the all-time ranking.
Ba, signed from Newcastle for £7.5 million the previous day, started his own account in impressive style and was praised by Benitez for the way he built an immediate understanding with his new team-mates. The manager insisted he could play alongside Fernando Torres, who made way for the new arrival yesterday.
"They are both good players who can play together. Ba had a successful partnership with Papiss Cissé at Newcastle so I see no reason why he can't play with Torres."