Frank Lampard says Chelsea will carry on regardless if Willian leaves, despite his admiration of the player – and he would not mind if he joined rivals Arsenal.
Brazil forward Willian is understood to be closing in on a move to Arsenal, with his Stamford Bridge contract expiring after the Blues’ Champions League exploits.
Willian will miss Saturday’s last-16 second-leg tie at Bayern Munich with an ankle issue. He could have already played his last Chelsea game.
Lampard insisted Chelsea have “done everything we can” to try to keep the 70-cap Brazilian at Stamford Bridge with the 31-year-old understood to have rejected the Blues’ offers of a new two-year contract.
“It actually doesn’t matter about disappointment from any party in this situation,” said Lampard.
“I haven’t got an answer for you (if Willian will leave) first and foremost, because Willian remains our player at the moment.
“He’s injured for Saturday, and he was injured for the cup final. He would have given everything to play in those games.
“I know Willian well, I’ve seen him, he’s carried this injury a little bit from the latter part of the restart.
“In terms of being disappointed, certainly as a club I think we have done everything we can to explain to Willian, and mine and his relationship is really close.
“I would have no feeling of disappointment if he does move on.
“I’ve played with him, coached him, he’s a fantastic man and a fantastic player.
“I think he will feel like that about Chelsea, I’ll leave him to say his own words.
“But I don’t want anyone to try and find a negative attitude. That’s because the club have acted very well in this as well.
“I don’t have the answer, if he moves on I personally would wish him well. And that’s kind of where we’re at now.”
Willian had held out for a three-year contract extension at Chelsea, but the Blues were determined not to offer more than a two-season deal.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk winger is understood to be closing in on a switch to the Gunners.
CHELSEA “ALWAYS WANT TO MOVE FORWARD”
Lampard admitted Chelsea will simply have to cope should Willian opt to move on.
“When a player’s out of contract they have the freedom and the right to go and play wherever they want. We have to understand that,” said Lampard.
“If they stay in the league and it’s a player of Willian’s quality for instance, then they will go and contribute to that team.
“I think we have to accept that and move on, I’ve got no problems with that. That’s his right.
“I think he leaves a hole as a player that’s been here for seven seasons and performed as part of some very successful teams.
“When I came in for this year and we had a very young group. We had some transitional elements to the whole group. Willian was one you looked at and relied upon in terms of experience and quality. He’s shown that all year.
“But he has his own decisions to make. And we as a club will always want to move forward, no matter what.
“Eden Hazard left last year, but the club continues. You try and work in a forward direction, which I think we have in many ways.
“And that remains the same whatever player will leave the club.”