Rafael Benitez has clarified his position with regards to whether Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole will extend their Chelsea careers beyond their current contracts which finish in the summer.
Shortly after starting work in his new job, the interim manager was widely quoted as believing it to be the case at the moment that the two England internationals will leave at the end of the season, and that his interim status limits his influence on that.
However asked this weekend whether there was a chance Lampard might depart as early as the January transfer window, Benitez explained:
‘When I was asked the other day, maybe it was a misunderstanding or maybe my English was not good enough, but the situation I know is that they are finishing their contracts [in the summer]. Past that, I do not know.
‘I know that Frank is happy here and he is a player that is part of the leadership, he is one of the important players, but I do not know about his future.
‘So I cannot say yes or no, he will stay or he will leave, in January or even at the end of the season.At this moment, I do not know.’
On Friday Benitez reported he had been asked by the directors for his opinion on possible transfers but hadn’t worked with the current squad long enough to have clear views on the matter.
‘We didn’t talk about any players going,’ he clarifies. ‘The board were asking me about players coming but not about any players leaving.’
Benitez has yet to have Lampard available for selection. The midfielder is nearing a return following a calf injury suffered away to Shakhtar Donetsk at the end of October.