The Brazil international is producing some of his best form in recent times with his future at the Blues up in the air
Frank Lampard says that Willian is a player that he loves having as Chelsea‘s board look to decide whether to offer him a new deal in light of recent good form at Stamford Bridge.
The 31-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season but he has stepping up repeatedly this campaign, including contributing the assist for Tammy Abraham’s opener in the club’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Lampard temporarily handed Willian the captain’s armband following his 300th appearance for the club and while declaring his affection for the Brazilian, conceded contract talks are out of his control.
“The word isn’t “no brainer” because I can’t get involved in the money,” Lampard said of Willian’s expiring contract. “That’s up to the club to do. But everyone sees how much I’m relying on him, and picking him and in what he is producing, I love him at this football club. So there’s my answer.
“I know his qualities from playing with him but when I looked at Willy over the last couple of years, he was in and out of the team. You’re not sure, from the outside, I want to see him happy. Willy is a happy, easy-going lad who loves his football and that was the first thing I said to him at the start of the season.
“I saw him being huge in the way I wanted to play. Naturally, on the ball, we all know his ability to go by, one v one, and shift people and cross or get shots away. But his off-the-ball work is an outstanding example for Callum Hudson-Odoi, for Christian Pulisic, for other young players who think the only part of the game is going by people, crossing or shooting.
“He certainly has the Brazilian flair in terms of his touch and his feet but I know what you mean. His burst of pace away from people is somewhat Brazilian in some players but the selfless side of his game is always a starting point for me.
“As we worked as a staff here, it was about how good we could be off the ball. Then think about on the ball afterwards. For someone who is showing that example up the pitch, it reflects everywhere. He does the other side brilliantly with absolute humility. He’s been a joy and one of the experienced players who is helping the young boys.”
Chelsea currently sit third in the Premier League after their win in the London derby, where Christian Pulisic added a second to kill the game off.
They have now earned six wins in six games but Lampard isn’t keen to say that his side are ready to make a title push just yet to compete with Liverpool and Man City.
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“I don’t see beyond the next game. Ours being Manchester City, so it doesn’t take a lot of your focus off it. It’s nice to be above City because I’ve got huge respect for them. What a team,” Lampard added.
“But I certainly won’t announce ourselves in a title race because we are relatively new because we are slightly in transition with younger players. To get carried away, we would be our biggest enemy. To say that would be a bit naive because we are not even a third of the way through the season.
“If we can keep replicating the form, keep replicating the results, then we can certainly close the gap and I think that is the first step.”