Frank Lampard has been appointed the new Chelsea manager, completing an emotional return to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues legend has now put pen to paper on a three-year-deal to become Maurizio Sarri’s successor at the west London club to end the wait for one of the worst kept secrets in English football to be confirmed.
‘I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach,’ Lampard said after the news was confirmed on Thursday morning.
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Club hero Frank Lampard was confirmed as the new Chelsea manager on Thursday morning
The 41-year-old put pen to paper on a three-year deal at Stamford Bridge after leaving Derby
‘I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach,’ Lampard said in a statement
LAMPARD AT CHELSEA
Trophies: 3x Premier League, 1x Champions League, 1x Europa League, 4x FA Cup, 2x League Cup
‘Everyone knows my love for this club and the history we have shared, however, my sole focus is on the job in hand and preparing for the season ahead. I am here to work hard, bring further success to the club and I cannot wait to get started.’
‘Frank possesses fantastic knowledge and understanding of the club and last season, he demonstrated he is one of the most talented young coaches in the game,’ Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia added.
‘After 13 years with us as a player, where he became a club legend and our record goalscorer, we believe this is the perfect time for him to return and are delighted he has done so. We will do everything we can to ensure he has all the support required to be a huge success.’
Surely after putting pen to paper on the three-year contract, Chelsea posted a video on Twitter showing Lampard walking around the Stamford Bridge pitch.
‘I’m delighted to be back,’ he told the camera. ‘I have so many great memories at this place. The new role starts here, I cannot wait to get started. See you soon.’
The 41-year-old will hold his first press conference as Chelsea boss at 2pm on Thursday, where he will be formally unveiled to the awaiting media.
The new Chelsea manager poses with the club’s director Marina Granovskaia on Thursday
The club were left searching for a new manager after Maurizio Sarri joined Juventus this month
Derby prematurely announced the departure of Lampard to Chelsea on Wednesday
But the news was prematurely broken on Wednesday night by Derby, who posted – and then quickly deleted – a story on their website with the headline: ‘Frank Lampard leaves for Chelsea’.
The Blues affirmed their intention to discuss their vacant manager’s job with Lampard after making an official approach to Derby last Tuesday, while on Monday the Championship club excused their manager from the first two days of pre-season training in order for their manager to conclude his move to London.
And those formal discussions have been brought to a successful conclusion with all the finer details of Lampard’s return now finalised.
Chelsea have paid an initial compensation package worth in the region of £4million to secure Lampard’s return.
The former Blues midfielder was happy at Derby – and he was prepared to take training on Monday and Tuesday before the club excused him from duty.
But the emotional pull of returning to Stamford Bridge, where he enjoyed huge success was simply too big to resist.
Lampard walked around Stamford Bridge and said: ‘So many great memories at this place’
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich turned to Lampard after Sarri’s decision to leave
Before sealing his Chelsea return, Lampard enjoyed some time away with wife Christine
Lampard lifted the Champions League with the Blues against Bayern Munich back in 2012 – now he will work alongside Petr Cech again after his old team-mate returned as an ‘advisor’
Frank Lampard certainly ranks among Chelsea’s top players of all-time – but his status as their greatest-ever was effectively confirmed by former team-mate and captain John Terry.
In 2017, following Lampard’s retirement as a player, Terry wrote: ‘The GREATEST player in the history of our great football club.
‘All the great memories together winning trophy after trophy year after year I will never forget. You have won everything and should be extremely proud.
‘It’s been my pleasure and honour to play and experience all those great moments with you.’
Lampard is expected to bring coaches Jody Morris, who played and coached for Chelsea, and Chris Jones, another former Blues coach with him back to Stamford Bridge.
Following top-level talks, led by director Granovskaia, the west London club decided Lampard would be their first choice target to replace Sarri, who left after one season in charge to become Juventus manager.
There were some doubts over Lampard’s suitability for the position given his relative inexperience.
The 41-year-old has just one season’s worth of managerial experience, leading Derby to the Championship play off final last season – where the Rams eventually lost to Aston Villa.
But Lampard will certainly galvanise a fan base that was divided at times last season given his hero’s status at the club.
He will be expected to blood a number of the club’s most talented youngsters due to Chelsea’s two window transfer ban.
Morris’ experience of working with the club’s academy players is likely to prove crucial during the forthcoming season.
AND HERE’S HOW OUR MAN CROUCH TIPPED IT EARLY ON…
Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch backed Frank Lampard to be the next Chelsea manager as early as
Peter Crouch’s Sportsmail column backed Lampard for Chelsea as early as February