'The club has identified several candidates' - Petr Cech's surprising claim over Frank Lampard's links with Chelsea
Chelsea's newly appointed technical and performance advisor Petr Cech has claimed his former team-mate Frank Lampard may have competition to land the vacant manager's job at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard was widely expected to be appointed as Maurizio Sarri's successor after his current club Derby allowed him to speak with Chelsea officials last week, but the confirmation of his appointment has not been forthcoming.
That has led to speculation that negotiations over his role at Chelsea have hit a stumbling block, with Cech using his interview with the Czech News Agency to offer up these comments.
"The club has identified several candidates, the situation is open," stated Cech. "Frank is one of them. Before the first team begins preparations we want to solve the issue of the new manager.
"The most important thing is to choose a new manager, it will be crucial in the context of further work. The coach will have ideas for the team, we will be completing the team for next season. He will have to look at the players and decide who will go to Japan (for a pre-season tour)."
It appeared the path was clear for Lampard to take over at Chelsea after he confirmed his eagerness to speak with Stamford Bridge officials, but his coronation has yet to take place.
Rumours suggesting Rafael Benitez could make a return to Chelsea have been circulating since his departure from Newcastle last week, while Luis Enrique has also been linked with Chelsea since his exit as Spain boss.
Yet it still seems likely that Lampard will eventually land the job he has always wanted, with the 41-year-old certain to be keen to resolve his future with Derby due back in training on Monday and Chelsea players set to return to their Cobham training base in the coming days.