Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has dismissed the notion he and Frank Lampard could be considered the next Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Arteta and Lampard go head to head at Wembley on Saturday in the FA Cup final, hoping to win the first trophies of their coaching careers.

Arsenal managed only to finish eighth in the Premier League this season but have won praise for positive signs of progress in their play, most notably in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.

Lampard, who took charge of Chelsea last year, steered the Blues to a top-four finish despite the restrictions of a one-window transfer ban and is now looking to lift a trophy he won four times for the London club in his playing days.

Arteta is full of admiration for Lampard but is not yet prepared to embrace the idea the pair are the natural successors to Klopp and Guardiola as the leading coaches in England.

"About Frank as a player, absolutely top," Arteta said on Friday. "I think the consistency he was able to play for that many years in the position he plays at such a big club and doing what he did was incredible. Big credit to him on that.

"As a manager, he has shown since Derby [County] the kind of ambition and person he has and the way he encourages his team to play. We are both young, both trying to learn our position so I wouldn't like to compare to the two managers you mention."

Arteta twice won the FA Cup as a player with Arsenal and admits victory on Saturday could prove an important step in his team's development.

"It generates trust when you're winning titles," he said. "It generates moments when together you go through good emotions. It brings everyone together, you have memories, there's a lot of things about winning a trophy that is so positive for any group and when you're in a process it makes it even more important. We have a great opportunity, so let's go for it."

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and Arsenal defender David Luiz are set to face their former clubs at Wembley.

Giroud has enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his past seven appearances in all competitions - including one in the 3-1 semi-final win over Manchester United.

"It's always good connections when these moments arrive," said Arteta. "You can see with Oli in the last few months, how he is performing, the amount of goals he is scoring for them. He has the experience in finals as well.

"In the case of David, such a special day for him to play his former club. Hopefully, he can do the performance he did in the semi-final against City."

Arteta has not been surprised by Giroud's strong form even though the France forward has often been compared unfavourably to great Arsenal strikers of the recent past, such as Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.

"I'm not surprised because I know Oli and he's a fighter," he said. "When he played for Arsenal, he had some difficult moments, but he always reacted.

"Comparing him with the greatest is like always: they've done it, they did it for long periods, they were really successful at the club, so any comparison with them is always difficult. I'm glad he is doing really well and hopefully tomorrow he won't do that well."

We could well be talking about Saturday's FA Cup showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea as the Olivier Giroud final.

The France striker will likely start for the Blues against his old club at Wembley after scoring twice in the semi-final win over Manchester United to take his tally in the competition to 16, a number only Sergio Aguero (19) can better since Giroud's debut.

Giroud has gone from a bit-part back-up looking for an exit to a crucial element of Frank Lampard's plans in 2020, particularly since the restart of football in England. As well as firing his side into the FA Cup final, he scored six Premier League goals - including vital ones against Aston Villa and Norwich City - to help his side secure a top-four finish.

"Now he is getting the absolute credit he deserves," Lampard said after the win over United, having hailed Giroud's professionalism while he was out of the first-team picture.

But why has the 2018 World Cup winner been seemingly underappreciated for so long?

Using Opta data, we delved back into Giroud's Premier League career for Arsenal and Chelsea to find out.

MONSIEUR RELIABLE

Giroud has scored 86 league goals in 238 appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea. Since his debut in the competition in August 2012, only Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy have scored more.

Despite this, Giroud is no stranger to the substitutes' bench - he has only started 37 times in the league in the past four seasons. If you go back to May 2016 to extend that number to 38 - in other words, a season's worth of starts - Giroud has scored 32 goals. Taken in isolation, that would match the record tally for a 38-game season set by Mohamed Salah in 2017-18.

Giroud's minutes-per-goal rate in the Premier League is unsurprisingly solid: 154.3. It's not as good as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's (128.3), but it's better than that of Alexandre Lacazette (178.2) and only fractionally lower than Tammy Abraham's (151.6), all of whom have been regularly preferred to Giroud in starting line-ups.

Giroud has also performed well in the Expected Goals category. He has only had negative xG differentials (ie, scored fewer goals than should reasonably be expected given his chances) in three of his past eight league seasons. Twice, in 2014-15 and 2016-17, he has overperformed in terms of xG by a factor of more than five.

So, why has he not played more?

THE BIGGER PICTURE

One problem might be Giroud's xG differential has fallen in recent years.

Since his Chelsea debut on February 5, 2018, he has scored 13 league goals from an expected 15.5, giving him a -2.5 difference. That number is below the top 10 goalscorers in the league in that time and pales in comparison to Aubameyang, who has a differential of 7.2, or Tottenham's Kane (10.4).

Those numbers make sense when you consider Giroud's 'big chance' conversion rate for Chelsea is at 29.2, almost exactly the same as Abraham (29) and below maligned former team-mate Alvaro Morata (32.5). Likewise, his shot conversion rate, including blocked shots, is 12.9 - lower than Abraham (16.7) and Morata (14).

There was a similar theme for the Gunners. In his Arsenal days, Giroud's big chance conversion rate was 36.3 per cent, with his shot conversion rate at 16.3. Aubameyang (49.35 and 24.8) and Lacazette (39.2 and 18.4) rank far higher.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Chelsea average more wins (58.7 compared to 55.2), more goals (1.9 compared to 1.7) and fewer goals against (1 compared to 1.3) without Giroud in the side.

RESURGENCE

Giroud told L'Equipe this week that he wants to keep playing until he is 36 and that the signing of Timo Werner by Chelsea is simply "an extra motivation" to perform.

Nobody, Giroud included, expects Werner to spend too much time on the bench at Stamford Bridge - so what can the former offer Lampard?

He has form, of course - he became the oldest player to score in five consecutive Premier League games in July and has found the net in each of his past seven appearances in all competitions - but his usefulness goes beyond his goal tally. After all, this is a player who started all but one of France's games at their World Cup triumph two years ago, despite not scoring.

Giroud offers a different sort of threat in the Chelsea attack, rather as he did for Arsenal. Since his debut, he has scored 31 headers in the Premier League, five more than any other player (Aubameyang has three).

In that same period, he has won 1,063 duels, averaging 6.5 per game for Chelsea at a success rate of 51 per cent, which is greater than any other current Chelsea or Arsenal striker. Similarly, his average of 4.9 aerial duels won per 90 minutes for Chelsea is more than double Abraham's tally, while he averages 7.7 touches in the opposition box per game compared to Abraham's 6.4.

These are not new elements to Giroud's game, yet they have been undervalued. He is a target man whose unselfish work can make teams tick, yet his knack for goals - when given the opportunity - speaks for itself.

Were fans allowed inside Wembley on Saturday, Giroud would be worthy of adulation from all sides of the ground.

Chelsea secured their place in the Champions League in convincing fashion as Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud sealed a 2-0 win over Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season.

With top-four rivals Manchester United and Leicester City facing each other on Sunday, Frank Lampard's side needed no more than a point at Stamford Bridge to guarantee their spot in next season's Champions League.

And despite a sluggish start, Chelsea turned on the style in first-half stoppage time, with Mount's stunning free-kick opening the scoring before Giroud doubled their tally moments later.

Europa League hopefuls Wolves toiled in the second half, but the visitors offered little threat as their 41-year wait for a top-flight win at Stamford Bridge rolled on.

After 45 minutes largely devoid of action, Chelsea sparked into life in stoppage time – Mount curling a sensational free-kick into the left corner to break the deadlock.

Chelsea had their second three minutes later, Christian Pulisic and Mount combining to play in Giroud, who rounded Rui Patricio and shrugged off Conor Coady before hooking into an empty net.

Nuno Espirito Santo turned to substitute Adama Traore at the start of the second half, yet Chelsea remained in comfortable control.

Diogo Jota brought a save out of Willy Cabellero just prior to the hour, but Chelsea were hardly troubled as they held firm to finish in fourth place – with United's victory over Leicester meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side took third.

 

What does it mean? Wolves now want a Chelsea favour

With Tottenham drawing at Crystal Palace, it is Jose Mourinho's side who take sixth place. It means Wolves, in seventh, either need to win the Europa League this season to qualify for the Champions League next term, or they must rely on a favour from Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Should the Blues beat Arsenal at Wembley, Wolves will qualify for the Europa League.

Mount makes his mark

It has been an impressive campaign for Mount and the England international capped it off with an exquisite strike, before turning provider for Giroud's eighth league goal of the season.

Kepa's Chelsea future up in the air

Former Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa has endured a difficult season at Stamford Bridge, and Lampard went with Willy Caballero for Sunday's clash, perhaps indicating Chelsea will be looking for a new number one in the close season.

What's next?

Chelsea take on Arsenal in the FA Cup final next week, while Wolves face Olympiacos in the Europa League on August 6 – the first leg of that tie finished 1-1 back in March.

Olivier Giroud has set his sights on overtaking Michel Platini as France's second-highest goalscorer as the Chelsea forward aims to win 100 caps for Les Bleus.

Giroud – who reached the Euro 2016 final with France before winning the 2018 World Cup – has scored 39 international goals in 97 appearances.

The 33-year-old has been a stalwart of Didier Deschamps' squad and needs just three more goals to overtake Platini and move second in the all-time list, behind Thierry Henry, who netted 51 times between 1997 and 2010.

Now, Giroud has set his sights on becoming only the eighth centurion in France's history, as well as matching Platini's goal haul.

"I had the chance to make a Euro final and win the World Cup," he said in an interview with Canal+.

"I'm still thirsty for trophies and to break records in the French team. It would be good to pass 100 caps, and then try to get past Platini in second place in the team's top scorers rankings.

"These are goals and the Euro next year is of course a goal."

Giroud scored six goals as France successfully qualified for Euro 2020, only for the tournament to be pushed back a year due to coronavirus.

Liverpool held off a Christian Pulisic-inspired comeback as the runaway Premier League champions overcame Chelsea 5-3 ahead of the trophy presentation at Anfield. 

Jurgen Klopp's title winners got into the party spirit as they were involved in an eight-goal thriller on Merseyside in their final home game of an unforgettable season, though there was little sign of the late drama to come when they led 4-1. 

Naby Keita's right-footed rocket opened the scoring, and there was a long-awaited home goal for Roberto Firmino - his first in the league since March 2019 - early in the second half. 

The impressive Pulisic helped the Blues battle back to 4-3, raising hopes of clinching the draw they required to make certain of a top-four finish, but Liverpool had the last word, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slamming home to secure the win.

Frank Lampard hailed the character and leadership qualities of his Chelsea squad after overcoming Manchester United 3-1 to advance through to the FA Cup final.

Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount scored either side of half-time in Sunday's clash at Wembley – helped by a couple of David de Gea errors – and Harry Maguire put into his own net.

The victory comes less than a week on from Lampard criticising his side for not being vocal enough on the pitch in their 3-0 Premier League loss at Sheffield United.

But the Chelsea boss felt his players more than stepped up against Man Utd as they took control of the match from the start to set up a final with city rivals Arsenal on August 1.

"I can't ask for any more from my players than that - the work ethic and the level of performance," he told BBC Sport. 

"We were on top and when they changed their system we were even better. I am very proud of that performance.

"Where we are at it is going to happen that we have some bad displays like against Sheffield United. 

"We have done a lot of work in the last few days and the players deserve a huge amount of credit. They should take confidence from that display. 

"We have leaders. You can't compare across eras but we have leaders in the team. It was a performance full of character and personality."

Chelsea are also battling with United for a top-four finish in the Premier League, something they can guarantee by winning their remaining games against Liverpool and Wolves.

"We have some finals ahead - two in the league and then Arsenal," Lampard added. "We want to win things. 

"Three games won't define the progress we have made but we are at the business end."

Giroud was the first to profit from De Gea's questionable goalkeeping by flicking in the opener during first-half stoppage time, which was prolonged due to Eric Bailly suffering a head injury.

The World Cup-winning striker has lifted the FA Cup three times with Arsenal and once already with Chelsea and is now aiming to go all the way again by seeing off his former club.

"I said to my boys in the dressing room, 'I would love to win another one'. It would be my fifth one," he said.

"Another final now - it's going to be another big game against Arsenal. It's going to be so special for me, personally.

"We are very happy with the team’s performance today. We now need to focus on the Premier League."

Giroud was strongly linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge in January but recently signed a 12-month extension and is no longer seeking an exit.

"It's all behind me and now I'm looking ahead," he said. "I'm very happy at Chelsea. I just want to win more trophies and we now have the opportunity to do that in the FA Cup."

Frank Lampard paid tribute to Olivier Giroud's character and professionalism after becoming a key player for Chelsea in recent weeks despite appearing to be on his way out of the club in January.

Giroud, 33, was strongly linked with a transfer away from Chelsea at the start of the year having reportedly grown frustrated with a lack of first-team football, finding himself back-up to Tammy Abraham.

But Chelsea kept hold of the Frenchman and he has taken on a key role in the club's bid for Champions League qualification since the Premier League's resumption last month, scoring four times.

His most recent was the winner in Tuesday's 1-0 triumph over Norwich City, which put Chelsea four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, and Lampard saluted Giroud's impact.

"He is always going to give you a desire to get in there for the team," Lampard told Sky Sports. "He had a few half chances in the central area. That is what you have to do when he is in the team – use his attributes, try and cross the ball.

"It's a great cross from Christian [Pulisic] for Olivier's goal. He is a big character for us, he has scored important goals, and that is really good.

"Just before the lockdown as well, he came in and got us a couple of big results and that's probably credit he was due anyway.

"He has never given me a problem, always trained brilliantly, and when Tammy was really playing very well earlier in the season and regularly staying in the team, his professionalism was always good.

"I told him in January I wanted him to stay and he was fantastic with how he handled that, and he has continued to do that in the way he trains, and the way he plays is important for us."

Lampard was by no means impressed with the collective display at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, though he accepts that getting the points is all that matters for the time being.

"It was OK – I shouldn't joke because at this stage of the season, as we've seen in the last 48 hours, results are critical and we didn't concede any chances of note, we created a few ourselves, got our one goal," he said.

"We could have got more with better quality, but it was OK, professional is probably the word. I want more, but that can wait. Where we are at as a team and the position in the table, three points was everything."

Olivier Giroud's third goal in four matches was enough for Chelsea to claim a 1-0 win over already-relegated Norwich City, giving them a four-point advantage of Manchester United in fifth.

Champions League qualification appeared to be on the rocks after third-placed Chelsea lost 3-0 to Sheffield United last time out, but after Leicester City and United dropped points too, Frank Lampard's men have consolidated their place in the driving seat.

That is not to say they were in great shape throughout at Stamford Bridge – there were times in the first half where the Blues looked like they might disappoint again, but Giroud finally punished slack defending in stoppage time.

Clear-cut chances were more of a rarity after the break, but against a Norwich side that has scored just 26 times this season, Chelsea never looked in danger of being pegged back and Giroud's header was enough.

Chelsea were dominant throughout the first half but were less than convincing in front of goal.

Giroud, starting ahead of Tammy Abraham, was guilty of spurning two excellent chances with mishit finishes, with the hosts appearing to grow frustrated as the first period progressed.

Christian Pulisic went close as well, though Tim Krul's reaction save saw him tip the American's fierce strike on to the crossbar in the 36th minute.

Giroud eventually made the breakthrough just before half-time, however, nodding in Pulisic's cross from six yards.

The second half was an even cagier affair, with little happening at either end before Cesar Azpilicueta's speculative long-range effort with his left foot flew just over.

Krul then thwarted Pulisic from close range 15 minutes from time, though Chelsea were not made to rue that error, as they saw out the triumph.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea get the job done

It was not as comprehensive as most would have predicted – and expected. But, at this stage of the season, getting three points is all that matters and it keeps the Blues on course to finish third.

Given their final two matches of the season are away to Liverpool and Wolves, anything other than a win here would have surely been critical.

Willian a willing creator

It is fair to say Willian is doing his chances of earning a new contract beyond the end of the season no harm with recent performances. He may not have finished the game with any goals or assists, but he was a creative threat – he laid on seven key passes, more than anyone else on the pitch.

Drmic anonymous

It was always likely to be a thankless task leading the line for Norwich, but Josip Drmic did not exactly help himself – the Switzerland international offered precious little after getting the nod ahead of Teemu Pukki and Adam Idah.

What's next?

A trip to Wembley awaits Chelsea on Sunday as they face Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals, before then returning to Premier League action at champions Liverpool. As for Norwich, they play their final home match of the season against Burnley on Saturday.

Manchester City are reportedly eager to sign Valencia star Ferran Torres, while there is set to be further movement at Chelsea.

Torres, 20, has been linked to numerous European giants after impressing at Valencia, where he came through the youth system.

City are seeking to replace Leroy Sane, who has joined Bayern Munich, and may have found their man.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EAGER TO SIGN TORRES

Manchester City have made signing Valencia star Torres a priority, according to Cadena SER.

Contracted at Valencia until 2021, Torres has been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

Torres has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 41 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner set to arrive, Chelsea could be set for further moves. Sport Bild reports defender Antonio Rudiger is in contact with Germany team-mate Kai Havertz as he tries to convince the Bayer Leverkusen star to head to Stamford Bridge.

- Staying at Chelsea and the Daily Express says Frank Lampard is looking to sell numerous players. It claims midfielder N'Golo Kante is among them and Real Madrid are eyeing the Frenchman.

- Emerson Palmieri and Olivier Giroud could also be set for Chelsea exits. Goal reports Inter are ready to offer €22million (£19m) plus add-ons for Emerson, while they are also interested in Giroud.

- With Luka Jovic seemingly set for a Real Madrid exit, the interest is apparently growing in the forward. The Daily Star claims Leicester City have joined the race for the forward, who is said to be a target for Chelsea.

- Back at San Siro and Inter have decided to put Matias Vecino on the transfer list, according to CalcioMercato. Vecino, 28, arrived at Inter from Fiorentina in 2017.

Willian was on target again as Chelsea beat struggling Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to move back into fourth place in the Premier League. 

The Blues suffered a midweek defeat at West Ham and slipped out of the Champions League positions when Manchester United hammered Bournemouth on Saturday. 

Chelsea responded later in the day, Olivier Giroud marking his return to the starting line-up with the opener before Willian scored his sixth goal in his last seven games from the penalty spot late in the first half. 

Ross Barkley added a third in stoppage time as Frank Lampard's side moved two points clear of United, and just one behind third-place Leicester City, a year to the day since the former England international was appointed. 

Watford are just one point and a place above the relegation zone with five matches to play.

Willian fired straight at Ben Foster with Chelsea's first sight of goal and the Watford goalkeeper kept out a Giroud effort before the France striker opened the scoring after 28 minutes.  

The impressive Barkley was the architect, his clever reverse pass giving the former Arsenal frontman the chance to drill into the far corner with his left foot from 10 yards out.  

Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous and were two up just before the break, Willian sending Foster the wrong way after Etienne Capoue needlessly upended the lively Christian Pulisic. 

The busy Foster again denied Giroud after the break, while he also tipped a measured Willian shot around the post as Lampard's men remained on the front foot. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga produced an agile stop to prevent Danny Welbeck from halving the deficit as Watford showed more of a threat, but Barkley rifled home his first league since October 2018 after Pulisic had been denied a penalty as Chelsea cruised to victory. 


What does it mean? Chelsea back on track, Hornets remain in the mire 

After a setback at the London Stadium, Chelsea provided just the response Lampard would have been looking for. 

They had too much quality for a Watford team that were unable to contain the Blues, who caused the strugglers all sorts of problems as they fizzed the ball around on a slick surface with a swagger. 

Pulisic goes from strength to strength 

Pulisic was a constant menace to Nigel Pearson's side, drifting into pockets of space and gliding away from defenders with great skill and pace in another eye-catching performance. The big-money signing from Borussia Dortmund took time to settle in English football but he now looks very much at home. 

Outing to forget for Capoue  

Midfielder Capoue most definitely did not have the impact Pearson would have had in mind, going into the book before conceding the penalty and being hauled off early in the second half. 

What's next? 

Chelsea face a short trip to Selhurst Park for a London derby with Crystal Palace on Tuesday, while the Hornets host bottom side Norwich City on the same day. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was named in Chelsea's starting line-up for the first time in 13 months when the Blues visited Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

The England international ruptured his Achilles in May 2019 and had not featured across the 2019-20 campaign.

In the Blues' first game back following the coronavirus-enforced break, Frank Lampard chose Olivier Giroud in attack ahead of ex-Villa loanee Tammy Abraham.

Midfielder N'Golo Kante was also in the starting line-up, having been out since February because of a groin injury.

Villa were unchanged from the side that drew 0-0 with Sheffield United on Thursday.

The trip to Villa Park was the 100th game of Lampard's managerial career, with the former Blues midfielder having won 45 of his first 99 in charge of Derby County and Chelsea.

Olivier Giroud admitted he "very nearly" left Chelsea during the January transfer window before extending his contract with the Premier League club.

Giroud was linked with Serie A sides Inter and Lazio, but last month extended his deal through until the end of next season.

The 33-year-old striker said he was close to leaving Stamford Bridge before receiving assurances from head coach Frank Lampard.

"I was supposed to leave in the January transfer window because I wasn't playing much and I needed more game time to make the France squad for Euro 2020," Giroud told the club's website.

"I very nearly left the club but I really think that God wanted me to stay at Chelsea.

"The manager told me that he couldn't let me leave because he didn't have anyone to replace me. Everyone knows what happened so I won't go back over it but the coach spoke to me privately and told me that he'd give more games.

"He kept his word and what then mattered to me was proving to him that he could count on me when I was called upon."

Giroud arrived at Chelsea from Arsenal in 2018 and has already helped the club win the Europa League and FA Cup.

The France international is eager to win more silverware with Chelsea, while saying he was happy in London.

"I want to keep winning trophies and I want to continue to show the manager that he can count on me," Giroud said.

"Plus, with the whole coronavirus lockdown situation, I didn't really feel comfortable with the idea of moving abroad and uprooting my family. I think a lot about our quality of life and we have a great setup here. I think a lot about my family now."

Chelsea have activated an option in Olivier Giroud's contract that will see the striker remain at the club for the 2020-21 season.

The Blues exercised the clause last month as the France international was in the final year of his deal, meaning he would have become a free agent at the end of the currently suspended campaign.

Frank Lampard had previously discussed Chelsea's hopes of retaining both Giroud and Willian as their contracts ran down.

There was speculation they would be handed short-term deals permitted by the Premier League in order to allow them to complete the 2019-20 season, if it were to run beyond June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, following the move confirmed on Wednesday, striker Giroud - who was heavily linked with a move to Inter - will be at Stamford Bridge next season as well.

"Since I have been back at Chelsea, Olivier has been brilliant as a professional and as a man in general," Lampard told Chelsea's official website on a day that also saw goalkeeper Willy Caballero sign an extension.

"He has great qualities to help the squad both on and off the pitch, not only with his talent but with the example he sets every day and the experience he brings to our young squad.

"I am very pleased that will continue next season."

Giroud, 33, had found starting opportunities hard to come by this season before growing in importance amid injury concerns for Tammy Abraham before the suspension of top-flight action.

He scored in the 4-0 home win over Everton, which was Chelsea's last outing before the shutdown, while he also struck in February's derby win over London rivals Tottenham.

"I am delighted to continue my journey and adventure at Chelsea," said Giroud, who arrived from Arsenal in January 2018.

"I can't wait to get back to playing and enjoying competitive football with my team-mates. 

"I'm looking forward to wearing the Chelsea shirt again, especially in front of our fans at a full Stamford Bridge, whenever it is safe to do so."

Chelsea believe Giroud is an important presence as their young squad matures under Lampard.

Director Marina Granovskaia said: "His attitude when asked to play a supporting role has been exemplary. 

"It is clear to the club that Olivier continues to be a player we want in the squad, especially as we maintain the important balance between top-quality experience and the exciting young talent we have available.

"He is a proven trophy winner who we hope can help our new generation to become that too."

Frank Lampard hopes Chelsea will be able to hand Willian and Olivier Giroud short-term contract extensions that allow them to complete the Premier League season.

The two players are out of contract on June 30, with the Premier League likely to play beyond that date if Project Restart wins approval.

England's top-flight has approved legislation that allows teams to add time to the expiration of deals until the end of any extended campaign, though only if the players in question agree.

Lampard is closely scrutinising the situation and hopes to have the same squad available for the remainder of the campaign.

"It is still uncertain if and when play will get underway," the Chelsea boss said to Sky Sports ahead of Monday's meeting to determine if the first phase of team training will be approved.

"We have big players [out of contract] so that's something I'm obviously looking at very carefully.

"The ones who are out of contract here have been great servants for the club, and actually have a lot of feeling for the club."

Lampard added: "Of course they'll be concerned about themselves, in terms of how training is now is and if the pre-season is a rush they are going to have to make sure they are alright.

"So it's going to have to be something we have to look at, hopefully we can make that arrangement can be made so they can stay with us.

"I would love the squad to look as it has all season, but we'll have to see how that works."

Willian has played in 28 of Chelsea's 29 Premier League games this season, while Giroud was beginning to earn a more significant role before the coronavirus brought a halt to major sporting action.

He, like Willian, netted in the Blues' 4-0 home win over Everton in their last game, and also struck in February's 2-1 victory over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on February 22.

Barcelona could keep Philippe Coutinho after all, while Gareth Bale is seemingly set to stay at Real Madrid.

Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich this season, has been heavily linked with a permanent move away from Barca.

Meanwhile, Bale is said to be considering his Madrid future, but could yet remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – COUTINHO TO STAY AT BARCELONA

Barcelona coach Quique Setien has found a solution for Coutinho and could play the Brazil international in midfield, according to Marca.

The report says Setien has in mind an option of playing Coutinho as a number eight.

A playmaker, Coutinho has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Bayern this season.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move away, Bale is committed to staying at Real Madrid, according to AS, which also says the club have told forward Luka Jovic his future is at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Barcelona are said to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. Sky Sports reports the LaLiga club have offered Spurs Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo for Ndombele. The Mirror says Tottenham have no intention of selling the France international. Sport, meanwhile, says Barca want €45million for Semedo.

- Alexis Sanchez's future remains uncertain. The Sun says neither Manchester United nor Inter, where he is on loan this season, want the Chile international.

- Out of contract at Arsenal in 2021, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be set for an exit this close season. The Daily Mail reports the Premier League outfit are ready to listen to offers for the forward.

- Dries Mertens is set to attract plenty of interest with his Napoli contract expiring. The Mirror reports Chelsea want the forward, who is the Serie A club's equal all-time leading goalscorer.

- That could impact Olivier Giroud's future at Chelsea, where he is out of contract at season's end. The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to activate a one-year extension for the striker, while Tuttosport reports Inter are still considering the France forward.

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