(Reuters) - Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said Olivier Giroud could leave Stamford Bridge this month, with Serie A leaders Inter Milan reported to be in pole position to sign the French striker.
Sky Sports reported on Friday that France’s World Cup winner Giroud, whose Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season, has agreed a 2-1/2 year deal to join the Italian club.
Lampard, whose side are fourth in the Premier League, said Giroud’s departure is not necessarily linked to Chelsea signing a replacement and the player would only leave if the deal suits all parties involved.
“With Oli the situation is if it’s right for everybody — and first and foremost that’s the club because he’s under contract — then we’ll look at whether he can leave,” Lampard told reporters ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League match against Burnley on Saturday.
“He’s been a great professional here and trained brilliantly even without getting the opportunities. I hold him in high regard but I still have to make a decision for the club and nothing’s done yet.
“Everyone’s talking about it so I’m not going to beat around the bush; I think his agent has spoken to the club. But until we decide it’s the right thing then it’s not done.”
Giroud has not played for Chelsea since the end of the November, with Tammy Abraham cementing his place as the club’s first-choice striker since Lampard’s arrival.
Abraham has scored 12 league goals this season and been in Gareth Southgate’s last two England squads.
He scored his first England goal against Montenegro in November and is likely to get another chance to impress against Italy and Denmark in March, with captain Harry Kane ruled out with a hamstring injury.
“Well first of all with Harry Kane, it’s not nice to hear - even though it’s a competitor within the league - of an injury to a player,” Lampard said.
“Tammy’s got himself into regular squads with the goal-scoring that he’s done with us.
“I’m delighted with his progression. For me, yes - he can play at the very highest level but he’s still in those early stages.”
Chelsea will be aiming to consolidate their place in the top four when they face Burnley following home defeats by Bournemouth and Southampton last month.
Lampard ruled out forward Christian Pulisic for a “few weeks” after the United States international suffered an adductor injury in training.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis