Frank Lampard and Thibaut Courtois are at very different stages of their Chelsea careers. One is a bona fide legend and record goalscorer at the club, while the other may never receive the opportunity to star in Jose Mourinho's first team, despite being one of the world's best young goalkeepers.
Both still have the chance to make a difference in the near future, unlike Ashley Cole, whose departure is all but confirmed after a lack of game time during Mourinho's returning season.
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Mourinho is expected to continue building his second-era Chelsea side across the summer with an influx of younger talent. Despite the need to develop, there's still room for one or two old heads. John Terry recently inked a new deal with the Blues, and, according to Tony Banks of the Express, Lampard will do the same:
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"Frank is feeling very positive about the whole thing," said a source "close" to the player. "He fully expects his Chelsea future to be resolved at some point next week before he flies off to Brazil. He is not looking at any other option other than spending next season at Stamford Bridge."
At 35 years old, it's understandable why Lampard's playing time has suffered under the returning boss. The former West Ham midfielder made a total of 29 starts and eight substitute appearances in the Premier League and Europe during the 2013-14 season, scoring seven and assisting five, per WhoScored.com.
Despite his limited appearances, Lampard is heading to the World Cup and will assume the role of experienced leader in the squad. His thoughtful distribution and eye for goal still offers plenty of quality in a team that is dominated by energetic youngsters, suggesting a potential new contract marks Lampard as one of the old heads Chelsea's developing squad can rely on.
Mourinho's goalkeeping problem is not simple. Should the Portuguese boss ditch Petr Cech, Chelsea's No.1 stopper for the past decade, in favour of the club's now established 22-year-old?
Many will say Courtois isn't ready, but, having won the Copa del Rey, La Liga and UEFA Super Cup during his loan spells with Atletico Madrid, not to mention his participation in the upcoming Champions League final, he has a greater roll of honours than many at Chelsea.
Even so, Courtois knows it will be difficult to oust Cech next season, per George Scott of the Express:
We will see in the next week if we can sit together with Chelsea to find something for next year, find out what they want, what my desire is. We will see. I have the biggest respect for Petr Cech. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, so I think putting him and me in the same team is not the healthiest thing in the world.
The Belgian starlet noted he wants to play in "everything" and isn't content with appearing sporadically in cup competitions. Mourinho needs to make a decision quickly. It seems inconceivable Chelsea would let their emerging superstar leave; not for the sake of holding onto 32-year-old Cech for another couple of seasons.
A less stressful situation is that concerning the future of Cole, who outlined his plans to step away from Chelsea on Tuesday:
I am weighing up my options for playing next season with my agent and sadly it does not look like chelsea will be one of them. 💙💙💙💙— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 19, 2014
Thank u Chelsea FC for making my 8 years there a pleasure to work all the staff and players, we've been through a lot, good and bad 💙💙⚽️⚽️— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 19, 2014
And now I'll be looking for another journey in my life hope it can be like my others full of fun and of course WIN something, 👍💯💯💯— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 20, 2014
Monaco is one destination that appears likely for the left-back, who recently retired from international football. The principality club could be the perfect fit for a player whose contract requirements are likely to remain steep.
"Cole has told friends that Monaco is his first choice if they can meet his wage demands," per Banks' article.
It would make perfect sense for Cole to choose Monaco. The Stade Louis II side recently received a huge injection of cash, investment that thrust them to Ligue 2 victory last year and second place in France's top division this season.
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With Leonardo Jardim likely to replace Claudio Ranieri as boss, as reported by Brian Homewood of Reuters and via the Daily Mail, Monaco will be looking to add world-class quality to their squad. Players such as Cole can help the team tackle Paris Saint-Germain, whose Qatar-backed dominance looks set to span many years in Ligue 1.
Mourinho certainly has plenty to weigh up during his second season back at Stamford Bridge. While keeping Lampard is a smart choice for the immediate future, Courtois' scenario is likely to cause significant worry as the summer rolls on. Considering he is set to star in the World Cup, Chelsea will need to show real commitment to the player if he is to stay.
For Cole, the likely end of his Chelsea journey has been somewhat forced. While Cesar Azpilicueta was excellent at left-back last season, the Blues will still be letting one of the world's great defenders leave. Mourinho appears happy for change, but he needs to bring in big-name replacements heading into the next campaign.