Frank Lampard says he will not hold grudge if Willian joins Arsenal

Frank Lampard says he will not hold grudge if Willian joins Arsenal

Frank Lampard has urged Chelsea to pull off an incredible turnaround when they face Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League on Saturday and has said that he will not hold a grudge against Willian if he joins Arsenal on a free transfer.

Willian appears to have played his last game for Chelsea after failing to recover from an achilles injury in time to make the trip to Bayern, who won the first leg 3-0, and is close to signing for their London rivals. While Lampard wanted the Brazilian to extend his seven-year stay in west London, the winger has failed to agree fresh terms with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy and is close to sealing a move to Arsenal on a three-year deal plus an additional one-year option.

Chelsea’s hopes of a breakthrough were dashed when Willian, who is set to earn in the region of £120,000 a week plus lucrative add-ons at Arsenal, turned down their offer of a new two-year deal this week. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player has been holding out for three years, even though he turns 32 on Sunday, and reports have suggested that he is disappointed that Chelsea have not done more to keep him.

However Lampard, who wants Chelsea to believe that they are capable of a miraculous comeback when they face Bayern at the Allianz Arena, insisted that he has not fallen out with Willian and will wish him well if he joins Arsenal.

“I read a headline that mentioned disappointment,” Lampard said. “It does not matter, disappointment from any party, in this situation. He remains our player. He was injured for the Cup final and injured for tomorrow and he would have given everything to play in those games.

“I know Willian well. He has carried this injury a little bit in the latter part of the restart. In terms of being disappointed, certainly as a club we have done everything we can.

“Mine and his relationship is very close and I would have no feeling of disappointment if he does move on. He is a fantastic man and a fantastic player. I think he will feel like that about Chelsea. I will leave him to say his own words. But I don’t want anyone to try to find a negative attitude. The club have acted very well in this as well. If he moves on I personally will wish him well. That is where we are at.

“When a player is out of contract they have the freedom and the right to play wherever they want. You have to understand that if they stay in the league and it is a player of Willian’s quality, then they will go and contribute to that team. We have to accept that and move on. I have no problems with that.”

Willian has had a good season, scoring 11 goals in all competitions and helping Chelsea secure Champions League qualification by finishing fourth. He was missed when his troublesome achilles injury kept him out as Lampard’s side lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal last week.

“He leaves a hole as a player who has been here for seven seasons, being part of successful teams,” Lampard said. “When I came in and we had a lot of issues in terms of younger players, players back from loan, transitional elements to the group, Willian was one you looked at and relied on in terms of his experience and quality.

“He has shown me that all year. He has his own decisions to make. We will always want to move forward, no matter what. Eden Hazard left last year. The club continues to work in a forward direction, which I think we have in many ways. That remains the same, whatever player leaves.”

Chelsea will be without several key players against the German champions, who are missing Benjamin Pavard and Kingsley Coman. César Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic, Pedro and Billy Gilmour are injured and Marcos Alonso and Jorginho are suspended, forcing Lampard to promote Lewis Bate, Armando Broja, Henry Lawrence, Ian Maatsen and Dynel Simeu from the youth team.

Yet Lampard, who captained Chelsea to Champions League glory when they beat Bayern on penalties at the Allianz Arena in 2012, is not giving up. “We have to believe,” he said. “To lose a home game 3-0, we have to understand the situation. It is extremely tough. Games have turned to big degrees. We have to believe we could have the opportunity to do something special.”