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Manager Watch: Mourinho vs. Guardiola

Manager Watch
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Di Matteo: Lampard still important

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has played down suggestions that the club are ready to dump veteran midfielder Frank Lampard, claiming that his future with the European champions is "very strong".

Lampard, 34, has been linked with a move away from the club with the LA Galaxy of the MLS in pole position to seal his signature once his contract runs out this summer.

Indeed, the Premier League win at Arsenal was the third successive match in which Lampard was not in the European champions' XI, with Ramires selected alongside John Obi Mikel in central midfield.

However, Lampard looks certain to return for Tuesday's Champions League game at FC Nordsjaelland and Di Matteo said: "His future is very strong at this club. He's a very important player for us.

"I've had conversations with him, yeah, which I do on a regular basis with the players. I like to exchange opinions. He's very supportive of the team when he's not in the team. When he's in the team, he's a great performer as well.

"From that point of view, we're fortunate to have a very strong squad with international players, so that's going forward with a busy schedule, it's important we use these players."

Di Matteo also insisted Lampard could adapt from a box-to-box goalscoring midfielder to an anchorman.

He added: "He's been playing that role, but I don't think I've ever taken those other things away from him. Those are his strengths, but you sometimes need discipline in that role. It's important for the balance of the team.

"But he's played there magnificently at the beginning of this season and last season as well."

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