Chelsea, after confirming the exit of Frank Lampard yesterday, have been linked with an audacious move to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Premier League.
Fabregas, who rejoined Barcelona from Arsenal for £35m three years ago, is surplus to requirements at the Nou Camp, with his position set to be further undermined if Barça are successful in signing Atletico Madrid’s Koke.
Arsenal have first refusal on any sale of the Spain midfielder but are understood to be looking elsewhere in the summer transfer market. Chelsea are also in the running for Koke as a replacement for Lampard, who announced yesterday that he would not be renewing his contract at the Stamford Bridge at the end of the month. That has led manager Jose Mourinho to firm up his interest in Fabregas.
Manchester City and Manchester United have both been linked with the 27-year-old in the past but both have different priorities, with new United manager Louis van Gaal not interested in Fabregas, unlike his predecessor David Moyes, who tried strenuously to bring him to Old Trafford last summer.
Chelsea’s main target remains Atletico’s Diego Costa but Fabregas would fit into the new side Mourinho is building – provided both parties can patch up their rather acrimonious relationship stemming from when the Spaniard was at Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Lampard has confirmed he will seek a new challenge after returning from the World Cup in Brazil after bringing an end to his 13-year association with Chelsea.
The 35-year-old issued a statement in which he revealed he has played his last game for the club. Lampard has already been linked with a move to New York City FC but his England team-mates are convinced he still has a future at the highest level.
Lampard gave no immediate indication as to what the future might hold, instead choosing to thank those who helped him make such a success of his Stamford Bridge career.
Lampard said: “When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success.
“This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity. Firstly, Ken Bates, who put his neck on the line to sign me as a young player and without him I would not have even begun this experience.
“Roman Abramovich, the man who saved our club and took us all to new levels. His desire to push the club to the top of the football world has rubbed off on everyone.
“All the managers and coaches who have helped me develop my game during the time I have been here. I have learnt from every one of them. All the brilliant team-mates who I have been lucky enough to train and play alongside for so long. Not just their football qualities but also the friendships I have gained along the way.
“I’d also like to give a special mention to all the staff and people behind the scenes at the club who do not receive the glory but without them the club would simply not function. The club will move forward, and as a Chelsea man I have no doubt that, with the quality of the players that are there, they will continue with the success we have all enjoyed over the past seasons.”
Lampard joined Chelsea in 2001 after six seasons at Upton Park and went on to make 648 appearances and become the club’s all-time top goalscorer with 211 in all competitions.
During his time at Stamford Bridge, Lampard won the Champions League, the Europa League, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
The England international formed a vital part of the spine of the team built by Mourinho alongside the likes of John Terry, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba.
The latter left in 2012 and, while Terry has signed a new deal, Cech’s place is likely to come under threat from the Thibaut Courtois. Left-back Ashley Cole left the club after his contract ran out.
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