Benitez hails 'fantastic' Lampard after Chelsea contract talks are halted

With the Blues seemingly no longer interested in renewing the midfielder's contract, the Spaniard believes the club's decision is not based on the 34-year-old's playing ability

Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea's decision to halt contract talks with Frank Lampard is not based on the ability of the "fantastic" midfielder.

Lampard hinted earlier on Friday that his time at Stamford Bridge could be reaching an end following the developments, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

15/2 Frank Lampard is 15/2 with Bet365 to score last in Sunday's Club World Cup final

However, interim boss Benitez insisted that those in charge have no doubt about the midfielder’s talents and hinted that there are other reasons behind the ceasing of contract discussions.

"For sure, he's a fantastic player, a great professional - there's no doubt about this," Benitez told BBC Sport.

"Also, when I talk to the people in charge, they are telling me the same, so nobody has any doubt about his condition, his levels, his quality. So the decision could be analysing different things, not just the quality of the player."

Lampard himself, meanwhile, believes he still has plenty to offer at the "top level", although he admits he may not do so at Stamford Bridge.

"I feel like I have two or three years, at least, in me at the top level," he said.

"It is not for me to decide on this one. It's up to the club. Whatever happens, I have had a great time at Chelsea. I am determined to play a few more years and see what pans out in the near future."

The 34-year-old, who has been linked with moves to the USA and China, is free to discuss pre-contract agreements with foreign clubs in January ahead of a possible summer move – but Lampard has insisted he will continue to give his all for Chelsea amid the speculation.

He added: "I'm not the kind of player to see out my time and sit with my bum on the bench too much. I want to be involved.

"I will keep trying to do that, whatever the circumstances."