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Benitez in challenge to Lampard
Published : 22 Dec 2012 09:59:00
Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez has challenged Frank Lampard to prove he is worth a new contract at the club by excelling on the pitch. The 34-year-old's current deal at Stamford Bridge expires in the summer but, so far, no talks have taken place over a renewal. Lampard has been linked with a move to Los Angeles Galaxy and Chinese club Guizhou Rehne, and appeared resigned to leaving Chelsea last week when he said: "Maybe things don't last forever." However, interim manager Benitez believes the England midfielder can have a future with the club he has represented for more than 11 years, but must first convince the ownership he is value for money. The Spaniard said: "The best way to do things is to perform on the pitch. "For a player, it is 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. "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 signed for Chelsea in July 2001 for £11million from West Ham United and has gone on to make more than 570 appearances for the club, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and last season's Champions League. However, while once indispensable, an injury-hampered 2012 and the arrival of new midfielders such as Oscar has restricted his first-team opportunities this year and he is now no longer a mainstay of the side. He returned the starting line-up as captain in Chelsea's last two outings, and Benitez has promised to keep showing faith in the veteran. "He's an important player for us," he added. "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." Benitez insisted uncertainty over Lampard's future has not affected his attitude or performances. "I can see him working very hard in the training session, and working hard during the games, so, I don't see any difference," Benitez said. Benitez also played down fears that John Terry's protracted recovery from knee surgery was a major cause for concern. The Chelsea captain has been out since colliding with Luis Suarez during the 1-1 draw with Liverpool in November. "We know it's an inflammation and it's a question of time that it goes down," Benitez said.