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14 Agustus 2008

Frank Lampard commits future to Chelsea

Frank Lampard pledged to give Chelsea “the best five years of my career” last night after signing a £33million five-year contract that makes him the highest-paid 30-year-old in domestic history.
The Chelsea midfield player should achieve his wish of finishing his career at Stamford Bridge thanks to an innovative deal in which his wages will continue to rise from their present level of £121,000 a week to a peak of £140,000 in the third year of his contract, before being reduced in the final two years.
Lampard's contract negotiations have been ongoing for more than 2 years, although the delay has not proved too costly because, having turned 30 in June, it is the most lucrative deal signed by a Premier League player of his age. Talks reached an impasse this summer over the length of the contract, as revealed by The Times, but a solution was reached this week after compromise on both sides, with Lampard being given an extra year on reduced terms.
John Terry's £135,000 a week remains the highest at the club, but Lampard's contract has an equivalent value over its full term.
“I wanted to sign a five-year deal because, having just turned 30, I feel I've got more than five years left in me,” he said. “I pride myself on my fitness and my training and I feel these will be the best five years of my career to come.
“I set out to improve every year as a player. I feel as fit as I've ever felt and I train as hard as I've ever trained. This contract will take me to 34 and if you look around there are a lot of top professionals playing, like Ryan Giggs, offering a lot to their club both on the pitch and off it. And I certainly feel that I can do that in a big way.”
Lampard has spoken of a desire to play abroad - he was tempted with the idea of a reunion with José Mourinho at Inter Milan - but credited his team-mates for convincing him to stay, particularly the support shown to him after the death of his mother in April. Chelsea's determination to keep him also played its part, with the club rejecting two bids, one of about £9.5million, from Inter last month.
“I think it helped coming back, training at Chelsea, seeing my team-mates, seeing the manager, feeling comfortable among the lads,” Lampard said. “The Man United game and what they did there was a big thing. I sat and watched that game with my family and when they removed their shirts [dedicating the victory to his mother] it was a very emotional moment. I will never forget it. I can't speak highly enough of the lads and what they did. John [Terry] as a captain creates that kind of spirit and the others follow because they are all great lads.
“When you go to your mum's funeral, you don't expect all the players to go there; you might expect a representative from the club. I had all the lads there. And that's something that goes beyond football and shows you what real friendships are.”
Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, hailed Lampard's deal, but warned Didier Drogba and Joe Cole that they would have to wait until next year for new contracts. “It could well be our best signing this summer,” Kenyon said. “I think it's important because it makes a statement about us keeping our best players.
“Didier and Joe Cole have two years to go. Both those contracts and discussions have been put on the shelf and will be revisited next year.”