Benitez: Lampard needs to perform
Rafael Benitez has told Frank Lampard it is up to him to prove Chelsea wrong over their decision not to offer him a new contract.
England midfielder Lampard last week appeared resigned to leaving Stamford Bridge when his current deal expires at the end of the season.
But the 34-year-old still has it within his power to make himself indispensable to the club where he has become a legend during 11-and-a-half glorious years. Interim manager Benitez said: "The best way to do things is to perform on the pitch."
He added: "For a player, it's easier even than for a manager. For a manager, it depends on other people. For a player, you can go there and show everyone that you are the best and it will be easier, any conversation. All of us are professional, we try to do our best, and after see what happens. But the answer is to be even better on the pitch."
Lampard's bid to do just that has been seriously hampered by injury in 2012 but he has started Chelsea's last two matches and looks set for a regular spot in the side as captain, including Sunday's Barclays Premier League game with Aston Villa.
Benitez said: "He's an important player for us. He's a good player, he has quality, experience, he can help the team in the build-up, and he can help the team scoring goals."
And, despite his contract saga, he is fully motivated to do so, according to Benitez.
"I can see him working very hard in the training session, and working hard during the games," Benitez said. "So, I don't see any difference."
Proof of this came in Lampard's reaction to not starting Chelsea's Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey last week.
"He wanted to play from the beginning in the first game and he was not quite happy," Benitez said. "My job is trying to bring the best out of each player. So I will try to bring the best from him against Aston Villa, against Norwich and every game."