Graeme Le Saux has praised the midfielder's contribution in recent years but suggests that no decision will be made on the return of Jose Mourinho until the summerEXCLUSIVE
By Tim Poole
Former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux says Frank Lampard has left a mark on the club "like no other player in history".
Lampard has been at Stamford Bridge since 2001, with the 15 goals he has scored this term taking his overall tally to within just one of the club’s all-time record goalscorer Bobby Tambling.
And Le Saux believes the 34-year-old's "enormous contribution" during the club’s recent success means he will forever be remembered by the Chelsea faithful - regardless of whether he leaves at the end of the season.
"Whatever happens, Frank is going to leave a mark on the club like no other player in history at Chelsea," Le Saux told Goal at the Barclays Community Sports Awards. "Frank’s contribution to the team over so many years has been immense - not just what he’s achieved obviously with his goalscoring but his overall contribution; it has been enormous.
"He’s become the cornerstone of Chelsea’s recent success. Any player of that stature is a loss if they leave but, equally, can offer a lot for the club both on and off the pitch if they stay. It’s between him and the club to decide a way forward."
On the return of Jose Mourinho, Le Saux insists nothing will be decided until the end of the current campaign, while he thinks current boss Rafael Benitez will be seen as a success if he finishes in the top four and lifts the Europa League trophy.
"The short answer, really, is that Rafa’s in charge and until the end of the season, there will be plenty of speculation [about Mourinho] but no decision made,” the 44-year-old said.
"I think given where the season is now and the amount of games the team have had to play, it would be considered a success if Chelsea qualify for the Champions League and win the Europa League.
"The Europa is a fantastic trophy to be part of and, if the team are successful, they’ll be the first club to hold both the Europa League and the Champions League at the same time – albeit the Champions League for a few weeks."
The former England international also believes John Terry’s recent performances could open the door to a future return at international level.
"John is one of the most proud men I know in terms of his responsibility on the pitch and his commitment," Le Saux added.
"It would hurt him every time England play and he would be thinking 'that could be me playing'; he’s always 100 per cent committed to the cause when he plays.
"Like every player, he wants to be judged on his performances. So if he’s playing regularly for Chelsea and playing at the level that gives him the opportunity to play for England then that’s a decision that Roy Hodgson has to make."
Graeme Le Saux, a judge for the Barclays Community Sports Awards, was speaking ahead of the End of Season Awards’ Lunch. The Awards are given monthly to those who have made outstanding contributions to grassroots sport with an overall winner chosen at the end of the football season. To enter your local community sports hero for next season’s awards visit: barclayscommunitysportsaward.com