Benitez: Lampard and Cole could yet stay
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has backtracked on comments he made suggesting Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard would be allowed to leave the club at the end of the season.
Cole and Lampard are both out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, with Benitez appearing to reveal at one of his opening press conferences as the club's interim manager that the England duo would be departing the Blues next summer.
The Spaniard has now moved to clarify those comments, however, suggesting that both players could yet end up staying in west London.
Cole has been strongly linked with a move to Paris St Germain in recent weeks, while Lampard is believed to be a target for MLS side LA Galaxy and Ligue 2 club AS Monaco.
"When I was asked the other day, maybe it was a misunderstanding or maybe my English was not good enough, but the situation I know is that they are finishing their contracts [in the summer]. Past that, I do not know," Benitez said on the club's official website.
"I know that Frank is happy here and he is a player that is part of the leadership, he is one of the important players, but I do not know about his future.
"So I cannot say yes or no, he will stay or he will leave, in January or even at the end of the season. At this moment, I do not know."
Benitez confirmed that he met with the Chelsea hierarchy on Friday, but insisted that potential January signings were on the agenda - not who might leave.
"We didn't talk about any players going," he said. "The board were asking me about players coming but not about any players leaving."
The Blues have been linked with Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and Metalist Kharkiv forward Taison in recent weeks.