Frank Lampard confirms how close Chelsea came to signing Erling Haaland
Frank Lampard revealed how close Chelsea came to signing Erling Haaland before the record-breaking striker joined Manchester City.
The 22-year-old has scored 36 league goals and counting this season to smash Mohamed Salah’s record for a single Premier League season.
Haaland and his City team-mates are expected to be crowned champions this weekend, either by beating Lampard’s Chelsea or being helped by another slip-up from title rivals Arsenal.
Chelsea played against Haaland in a pre-season game in July 2019 and Lampard admits he was desperate to sign the striker - who didn’t score that day - before Borussia Dortmund secured his signature the following January.
The 44-year-old said: “It’s a fantastic stat from him. I know the Chelsea side [of only scoring 36 goals as a team] is another story. I tried to sign him when I was last here. I was really keen to get him here but it couldn’t happen.
“His level was really clear at that point as well. We had played him in a pre-season game at Salzburg and he was fantastic. I love seeing players at that level and with that personality to be the best which he has proven to be.
“I think he is special and thought he would adapt straight away because of his level. I thought because of his record scoring for his country and in Austria that he would come into a good unit already would have been a recipe to help him.
“I did expect that and I have a real respect for the player. I don’t know whether he would have decided to come here anyway but I was a big fan of that [happening].
“People talk about mistakes in football and I don’t know if it was that but I was pushing for him and a few other players. I’m not sure what the appetite was in the club to do it, the competition was big to take him and only he will know [if it was close].
Lampard was then asked whether Chelsea would give Man City a guard of honour, should they be crowned champions before the match.
“We could do, we would do,” Lampard confirmed. “I remember getting that myself as a player and it is very respectful so no problem with that at all.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, are 11th in the league and their trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday is the first of three final matches against top four teams. Benoit Badiashile has joined a growing injury list, which now reaches eight ahead of visiting the champions-elect.
He added: “We’re similar to where we have been recently with Mason [Mount], Reece [James], Chilly [Chilwell], N’Golo [Kante], Marc Cucurella are not fit. Koulibaly has been training with us this week but is not really ready for a game like this.
“Benoit [Badiasile] has injured himself in training two days ago with his groin and we are assessing that as we speak.”