Frank Lampard praises ‘great player’ Cavani as Chelsea step up striker search

Jacob Steinberg
Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

Frank Lampard has opened up the possibility of Chelsea entering the race to sign Edinson Cavani, who has asked to leave Paris Saint-Germain after receiving a lucrative offer from Atlético Madrid.

Chelsea have been frustrated in their search for attacking reinforcements this month and Lampard, who is not opposed to a short-term deal for an experienced forward in the right circumstances, suggested that adjusting to the pace of the Premier League would not be beyond Cavani. The striker has been limited to 14 appearances for PSG this season and has informed the French champions of his desire to join Atlético, who have offered the 32-year-old an 18-month deal worth €10m (£8.5m) a year.

Atlético are confident of signing Cavani and while handing the Uruguay forward such a big contract could force Diego Simeone’s side to seek a buyer for Diego Costa, Chelsea would have to move quickly to land a player who has scored 198 goals since joining PSG in 2013. The former Napoli striker has also been offered to Tottenham, who are without the hamstrung Harry Kane until mid-April, and he could be of interest to Manchester United, who will be without Marcus Rashford for at least two months after the England forward suffered a double stress fracture in his back.

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Lampard made it clear he wants to improve his side’s attack following the blunt 1-0 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday. Chelsea have lost eight league games this season and, although they remain five points above fifth-placed Manchester United before hosting Arsenal this evening, a lack of ruthlessness is hurting their bid for Champions League qualification.

The challenge for Lampard is finding value for money in a quiet market. Chelsea are struggling to secure their main targets this month – moves for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Red Bull Leipzig’s Timo Werner will have to wait until the summer, Lyon are determined not to sell Moussa Dembélé and Crystal Palace’s £80m valuation of Wilfried Zaha is putting off potential suitors – and Cavani could provide quality competition for Tammy Abraham.

“He’s a great player,” Lampard said. “I played against him and I always loved his mentality. Obviously his goalscoring record speaks for itself. I’m not absolutely aware of what the situation is, so we’ll see. I think we are young and we know about the transitions. The idea of bringing in experience is something I’m not absolutely looking away from. Sometimes the young players need a little bit of help.”

There would be a risk attached to signing Cavani, who has fallen down the pecking order at PSG since the arrival of Mauro Icardi from Internazionale. He is not the force of old, injuries lowering his explosiveness, and Chelsea have seen gambles on fading big-name forwards like Radamel Falcao, Gonzalo Higuaín and Alexandre Pato backfire in the past.

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Yet while those three are cautionary tales, they will not enter Lampard’s thinking when it comes to Cavani. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Each case is different and whether it’s worked or not in certain cases I wouldn’t let that cloud my thinking.

“I would do it here in a moment if I felt there was experience needed and the player comes up and they’re gettable, then I wouldn’t say: ‘Oh, that hasn’t worked a few times with different players.’ Everyone is different. If it felt right, then it’s something we would look at doing.”

While Abraham has impressed up front, Chelsea have often lacked a cutting edge. The wide players have not contributed enough and Abraham’s understudies have underwhelmed, with Michy Batshuayi disappointing off the bench and Olivier Giroud close to joining Internazionale after finding his opportunities limited under Lampard.

“With Oli it’s clear that in Tammy we’ve had a striker that’s done really well and played a lot of games,” Lampard said. “If it’s his intention to go and play games and it feels right for us as a club, then I don’t want to hold someone here who has that feeling. Then there are obviously ways about how I see the game and how I want us to play.”

Inter, managed by Antonio Conte, are set to sign Victor Moses on loan with an option to make the deal permanent for €10m. Moses, who has spent the last 18 months on loan at Fenerbahce, impressed as a right wing-back when Chelsea won the title under Conte in 2017.

Meanwhile Eddie Newton, a member of Lampard’s backroom staff, is set to move to Turkey after holding positive talks with Trabzonspor about becoming their assistant manager.