Lampard opens talks with Chinese club over January exit… but what does that mean for Christine's TV career
13:35 GMT, 12 November 2012
Frank Lampard is in talks with Chinese club Guizhou Renhe over a possible move away from Stamford Bridge in January, which could cast doubts over his future England career.
Renhe's deputy board chairman Yang Xiayou has said the club are in contact with Lampard but that no deal had been done.
Lampard, as well as left-back Ashley Cole, has been a linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge in recent weeks, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.
On his way Frank Lampard (centre) and Christine Bleakley watched Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Liverpool
End of an era Lampard has been contacted by Chinese club Guizhou over a possible transfer
A potential stumbling block for Lampard's proposed move could be his relationship with fiancee Christine Bleakley.
The former Daybreak presenter is predominantly Britain-based, which could disrupt Lampard's move to the Far East.
'Yes, we are in contact with Lampard but so far nothing has been
settled,' the Renhe official told the Beijing television station BTV-6.
It followed reports in which the club's chairman Dai Yongge had claimed Lampard would join them as captain in January.
Lampard's agent has declined to comment on speculation about the midfielder's future and Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo dismissed the link to Renhe when the subject was raised in a press conference following Chelsea's Barclays Premier League match against Liverpool yesterday.
According to reports, Chelsea are not prepared to offer more than a one-year extension to Lampard, who could secure a lucrative payday to finish his career elsewhere.
Former Stamford Bridge team-mates Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka did just that when they joined Shanghai Shenhua this year on contracts said to earn them in excess of 250,000 a week, and Lampard could be in for a similarly lucrative deal should he follow them to China.
Lampard has been linked with a move to China since March, while he has been touted for even longer as a big-name replacement for David Beckham in Major League Soccer.
Renhe, who are based in China's
south-western province of Guizhou, qualified for the AFC Champions
League for the first time last season following a fourth-place finish in
the Super League.
Following suit: Former Chelsea team-mates Drogba and Anelka have already made the switch to China
STARS OF EUROPE PLYING THEIR TRADE IN CHINA
Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka moved to Shanghai Shenhua in last season's January transfer window and was followed by Stamford Bridge favourite Didier Drogba in the summer on a free.
Lucas Barrios left Borussia Dortmund for Guangzhou Evergrande for a fee of 8million after scoring 24 goals in the Bundesliga last season.
He is partnered by former Everton and Blackburn hitman Yakubu, who joined for 1million this summer.
The strikers are managed at Guangzhou by World Cup-winning Italian coach Marcello Lippi, who also had stints at Juventus and Inter Milan
Lampard, who realised his ambition to
win the Champions League in Europe last season when he captained
Chelsea to their Munich triumph, has repeatedly expressed his desire to
stay at Stamford Bridge.
But he has also admitted to concerns about the lack of contact from the club over a new deal in recent months.
Another concern would be how a move would impact his England career. Lampard is seven caps short of 100 caps for his country, scoring 26 goals.
Lampard has so far featured in Roy Hodgson's plans, and scored England's equaliser from the spot against Ukraine in September.
He has not played for the Blues since aggravating a calf injury in their Champions League defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk almost three weeks ago and is a doubt for their potential make-or-break Group E showdown at Juventus next week.
Lucrative: Lampard could be cashing in on a move to China, as Sportsmail reported last month
Magic moment: Lampard was an integral part of Chelsea's victorious Champions League campaign