The lack of alternatives for the club as a boss has helped Frank Lampard’s cause at Chelsea – the latest edition of ESPN’s Insider Notebook is testament to this. MORE: Manchester United are not going to let Donny van de Beek go.
Spring: Man ltd blocks Van de Beek’s departure | Leicester leaves Premier League elite | Chelsea look to Chouameni | Arsenal rising star awaits transfer talks | Prem snubs Odegaard
Lampard gets an extension to replace Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s fight to keep his job at Chelsea is being supported by the club’s management as they try to find his successor, sources told ESPN.
The 42-year-old is under increasing pressure as the Blues are 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United and have won just two of their last seven games.
Although it is acknowledged that Lampard achieved a top-four finish last season despite a FIFA transfer ban and reached the Champions League Round of 16 for the second consecutive season, club officials expected more during this period after spending more than £220m on players last summer.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will decide Lampard’s fate, but sources told ESPN that Abramovich’s board member and director, Marina Granovska, is torn over who should replace him.
Speculation has linked the intact duo of Thomas Tuchel and Massimiliano Allegri with Southampton’s Ralf Hasenhuttl and RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann as possible candidates.
– ESPN FC Daily Stream on ESPN+ (US only)
– Marcotti : Chelsea’s problems go beyond Lampard.
Part of the disagreement is whether to make temporary deals before the end of the season – with the possible options of former Blues manager Avram Grant and former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko – or wait until the end of the season when other options will be available. Grant, for example, has not played in the Premier League since 2011 following West Ham’s relegation, while Shevchenko has never played.
Lampard can make a difference, but he will have no illusions about the ruthless treatment of the Stamford Bridge management, given that Chelsea have made 13 leadership changes since Abramovich took over the club in 2003.
Sources have told ESPN that some players are troubled by Lampard’s approach and believe player changes in his starting lineup are contributing to inconsistent performances.
Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Luton (all games are televised live in the US on ESPN+) offers a chance to get back on track, but Chelsea then face Wolves, Burnley, Tottenham and Sheffield United in 11 days’ time. -James Ollie
Frank Lampard is having a difficult season as Chelsea boss, Getty.
Man United Block Van De Beek Outlet As Solskjaer Trophy Hunt Areas
Manchester United have rejected the loan of Donny van de Beek, sources told ESPN, and will try to keep much of the team on loan this month as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepares to fight for silverware on three fronts – FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League.
Van de Beek, who left Ajax for £40million last summer, has only appeared twice in the Premier League this season from eleven, sparking rumours that the midfielder should look elsewhere for regular game time.
But the Dutch international, along with defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams, who were also in talks as loan players, look set to stay at United as Solskjaer is determined not to miss the chance to win the FA Cup and Europa League this season and claim the Premier League title.
Solskjaer has made more changes to his starting line-up this season than any other Premier League coach, and his team are in the middle of the table for the first time since his last win in 2013. However, he expects a good eleven against Liverpool in Sunday’s FA Cup (all games will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in the US) and against Real Sociedad when the European League resumes in February.
– ESPN+ Visualization Guide : Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more.
United have suffered so many injuries this season that only West Ham, West Brom and Brighton have eliminated fewer players. Solskjaer also fears that the KOVID-19 outbreak could destroy his unit, sources added. So far, only youngster Fasundo Pellistri and second left-back Alex Telles have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the season, but the United boss wants to have a great squad available in case the virus spreads to his team. Reigning rivals Manchester City have seen an increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases at the club since Christmas. Five players became infected in early January and Sergio Aguero was the last to test positive.
Solskjaer is hoping to end the drought on United’s five-year trophy and is set to bring in Van de Beek for the second half of the season. It is also hoped that Jesse Lingard, who has only made three appearances, can be persuaded to stay at least until the end of the season. — Rob Dawson
Steve Nicol says Paul Pogba has finally got his head down and his game has come together at Man United.
Tricky Leicester – Rivals in the transfer market
Leicester City’s impressive work behind the scenes has helped the club become a Premier League contender this season. Sources tell ESPN that recruitment at King Power Stadium has left the big clubs frustrated at not being able to find foxes capable of signing rising stars in Europe.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has brought back four players from Leicester since joining Celtic in February 2019. Athletic Director Lee Congerton, who has worked with Rodgers at Chelsea and Celtic, has secured contracts for Wesley Fofan, James Justin and Timothy Castagne at Saint-Etienne, Luton Town and Atalanta respectively.
Sources told ESPN that Leicester’s French connections have given them the edge on the signing of Fofana, who came in at £36.5 million last October, allowing the club to fend off the interest of Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
– Ogden: Victory over Chelsea revives Leicester’s title dreams.
Fofana’s performances this season, which prompted Paul Scholes to tell ESPN last week that United should try and sign the 20-year-old, have also raised questions at Arsenal FC, whose scouts are pushing the centre-back in favour of a £27m transfer for St Etienne teammate William Saliba, who has yet to play for the Gunners 18 months after arriving at the Emirates.
Justin, bought from Luton for £8m in 2019, caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate after playing left and right for Leicester this season, filling the void left by Ben Chilwell’s £50m summer transfer to Chelsea. — Mark Ogden
Wesley Fofana is the latest example from Leicester to do everything right in the transfer market. MICHAEL REGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Chuameni – Chelsea Target (with or without lamp)
Chelsea have been monitoring the progress of Monaco midfielder Aurélien Chouameni, sources told ESPN, despite continued uncertainty over the manager’s position at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are looking to strengthen their midfield this summer and sources say scouts have set their sights on the French U-20 international, who has played well under coach Niko Kovacs and has progressed to the next level since leaving Bordeaux for the principality for €18 million a year ago.
He has been in the starting eleven of Ligue 1 this season, with the exception of one game, and has put in some of his best performances. The 20-year-old has attracted interest from several clubs, but Monaco want to keep him during the January transfer window before there is a rush to sign him in the summer, according to some sources. — Julien Lawrence
Gab Marcotti explains why Chelsea signed Kai Havertz instead of Declan Rice to keep Lampard in his position.
Smith Rowe awaits word with Arsenal
Emile Smith Rowe has made a big impression recently after finding his feet in the Arsenal first team, but talk of a new contract is premature, sources told ESPN.
The 20-year-old has played in the last five Premier League games and has seen his form improve significantly: Four wins and a draw have taken the pressure off coach Mikel Arteta. Thus, the newspaper reports that Arsenal are willing to make the attacking midfielder a better offer on their current contract, which expires in 2023.
However, sources close to the player told ESPN that Smith Rowe is still focused on securing his place on the team before thinking about his contract at the end of the season.
The Gunners are interested in a new offer, but have withdrawn the team with Mesut Özil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sed Kolasinak this month rather than discuss an extension.
Arteta said on Thursday: Let’s take it one step at a time. Emil did very well, he won his chance, he grabbed it with both hands and did it very convincingly. Let yourself go and it will come. -James Ollie
Steve Nichol praised Emile Smith Rowe’s play for Arsenal, calling it a step backwards.
Odegaard First Division
Several clubs in England, Germany and Spain could be in the running for his signature, but Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard has his eye on just one of them: Real Sociedad.
The 22-year-old, who is on loan to Sociedad, registered seven passes and nine assists in all competitions last season. His performances forced Real Madrid to cut his two-year loan short so he could return to his home club for the 2020-21 season.
Sources told ESPN that Odegaard is disappointed at Madrid as the attacking midfielder has not had enough playing time to impress the club this season after just two league games. Sources added that Odegaard is also looking forward to the second year on loan to Sociedad.
Arsenal have been linked with the Norwegian international, but the player prefers a return to Sociedad, with sources indicating that new loan negotiations have been ongoing since early December.
The only obstacle to a new loan to Sociedad will be the size of the loan, but the La Liga club are hoping to fund a move for Odegaard, and sources added that the club believe it is in pole position to beat Arsenal and other big European clubs, as the first loan for the player ended prematurely. — David cartledge.