Chelsea's preparations for the Champions League final were disrupted yesterday by reports from Italy that Frank Lampard would quit the club after the game to take up a four-year contract with Inter Milan. Confirmation from Uefa that Lubos Michel, the referee who allowed Luis García's infamous “ghost goal” in the semi-final defeat by Liverpool three years ago, will be in charge against Manchester United tomorrow evening provided a further source of irritation.
Senior officials at Chelsea reacted with surprise and anger that fresh speculation about Lampard, 29, had surfaced just 48 hours before the biggest match in the club's history and Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, placed an immediate call to Roman Abramovich, the owner, to ensure that no deal had taken place without his knowledge. An investigation has been launched to discover whether an agent is falsely claiming to represent Chelsea in transfer business, so strong was the word from Milan that a transfer was on the verge of completion.
Sources in Milan were happy to provide details of a salary - approximately £5.8 million a year - and a length of contract for the Lampard transfer, yet Chelsea claimed that there had been no contact between the clubs, while Steve Kutner, the England midfield player's agent, insisted that no decision would be made on his future until later in the summer, after talks with Chelsea.