Lampard’s World Cup U-turn has top clubs on alert

FRANK LAMPARD admits a desire to play in next year’s World Cup will be a major factor in where he moves in the summer.

England's Frank Lampard

The 34-year-old has less than five months remaining on his current £150,000-per-week deal at Chelsea and will leave in the summer after being told the European champions will not be offering fresh terms.

LA Galaxy were expected to be his preferred destination with reports claiming last month that the MLS side had agreed terms with Lampard.

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That seemed to spell disappointment for Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton, who were all keen to extend the Premier League career of the midfielder.

However, following his winner against Brazil on Wednesday night at Wembley, Lampard has given the broadest hint yet that a move to America is no longer on the agenda due to his desire to play in next year’s World Cup finals.

The Blues midfielder, who has been free to sign a pre-contract with a new club since January, said: “The World Cup is definitely a target for me. I know how football is and, from squad to squad, it can change.

“Plus, when you get to the age of 34 – or 35 in the summer – people do look upon things differently, and fair enough.

“But it (the World Cup) is a target. Put it this way, I won’t retire from England before that.

“I am very understanding of where I am at in my career. But if I can continue playing for Chelsea and continue contributing for England, whether it is starting or not, then it is getting a bit nearer.”

Asked if that desire to remain involved with England for at least the next 18 months would be a factor in where he goes after Chelsea, Lampard replied: “Yes, I will try to keep playing at a good enough level to get there.

“I haven’t spoken to Roy (Hodgson, manager) about it, as this has been a short get-together and there hasn’t been much time.”

Lampard’s target of playing in a third World Cup finals represents something of a U-turn with the midfielder having, two years ago, ruled out any hopes of still being involved come the summer of 2014.

He added: “I just try and do my stuff at the moment when I play. I believe Roy Hodgson is the type of manager if you are playing well enough, whatever your age, wherever you are, will pick you and I hope that’s the case.

“Maybe I will speak to him (about Lampard’s next move) but, first and foremost, I will seek my own advice and make my own decisions.

“I am very competitive and I have got a sniff of the World Cup. It is only a sniff because the World Cup is still a year away and England aren’t even there.

“So, I shouldn’t get carried away. But I will keep performing to my best and whatever decisions I take, I will take with a view across the board to make myself happy.”

Lampard’s second-half strike against Brazil at Wembley took his tally of goals to 27 from 94 international appearances. It also sealed a first win for the Three Lions over the five-time World Cup winners since 1990.

As impressive, though, as the Chelsea man’s curled effort was, the biggest plus of the night for England was the performance of Jack Wilshere in midfield.

Lampard added: “I know Jack is going to be a top player. Only a terrible injury halted him and he has come back and fitted straight in.

“I don’t want to heap silly pressure on him because he is very young and we shouldn’t do that.

“But the way he is performing now, it is up to him how far he wants to go because he is going to be a massive, massive player for England, that’s for sure.”

Wednesday night’s victory means Hodgson’s men will go into next month’s vital World Cup qualifier double-header against San Marino and Group H leaders Montenegro with fresh impetus.

Gary Cahill, badly at fault for Brazil’s goal after losing possession deep in his own half, believes the confidence from beating one of world football’s great names can only boost England’s hopes of doing well in the World Cup.

He said: “After that, I don’t think we fear anyone now. I thought we did fantastically well. We played and beat Spain (at Wembley in November, 2011) but that was a more resilient performance.

“By beating Brazil like we did, we have proved we can mix it with the big lads. So, no, I don’t think we have anything to fear.

“It is a statement from us. It was a tough game, but we were fantastic and played really well, especially in the first half.

“Maybe in the second half, they pinned us back a bit more. But we still created chances and it was probably one of the better performances I have been involved in at Wembley.

“The squad can only get better, too. We have got a mixture of experience and youth. But, if you look at the squad, probably a bit more youth. We have got loads of players aged under 25. It will stand us in good stead if they keep learning and keep progressing.”