Derby County manager Frank Lampard has left the door open for a potential return to Chelsea if Maurizio Sarri departs, but the former midfielder says his main focus remains on the upcoming Championship playoff final.
The former England international made sure to reiterate his commitment to getting the Rams promoted at the first time of asking but did not rule out a return to London if current Blues manager Sarri returns to Italy with Juventus.
Lampard finished sixth in the Championship with Derby in his first year as a manager and has guided his side to the playoff final, where they will face Aston Villa for a shot at reaching the Premier League.
“When I started out in management, people said; ‘Your dream must be to be Chelsea manager.’ It’s an easy link,” Lampard said ahead of the playoff final.
“My dream was to do as well as I can day in and day out to be successful. I can’t call that one. Those things happen or they don’t or whatever. My focus is completely on the here and now.
“I find it quite difficult because (Chelsea) have got a game coming up. More importantly for me we’ve got a game coming up before that.
“And also, they have a manager in Sarri, who is trying to get them to win that final. It’s been a bit of an obvious link all season.
“Maybe because of where we’re at in the final, and we’re being talked about, and we’ve had a good year, and then I get linked because of my 13 years at the club, I understand the link.
“But in terms of how I’m seeing it, I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I want to talk about Monday, I want to work with the team.
“I want to get this over the line for us. We’ve got a really difficult game, so it is what it is. That’s my standpoint on it and my focus is on us on Monday.
“I’ll say straight away to the Derby fans, my focus all year has been how well I can do in this job, because this club gave me an opportunity.
“And I want to finish that this season as well as I can. So that’s why my focus is so much on this game, and I’m thankful for that opportunity.
“I’ve got two years left on my contract here and I see no further than Monday. I will sit down with (owner) Mel (Morris) after the game, which was planned before all this talk anyway, to see firstly what the result was on Monday, because that’s going to be defining how we chat and to see where the club goes forward.
"It’s as simple as that.”
Lampard and Derby will face Villa on Monday in the promotion playoff finale as the club looks to seal a spot in the Premier League.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will face Arsenal on Wednesday in the Europa League finale as Sarri looks to win his first major trophy as manager.