Chelsea at Risk Of Losing Eden Hazard And Falling Behind Manchester Clubs, Says Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard has issued a warning to Chelsea, saying they are in danger of falling behind the Manchester clubs and thus losing star player Eden Hazard.

Chelsea sit third in the Premier League table, three points short of Manchester United and 15 behind Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, but club icon Lampard believes spending power is an issue.

Manchester United had the financial might to take Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal on Monday (January 22), while City look set to break their own transfer record with a move for Aymeric Laporte.

"Chelsea have the power to match them but it's something they haven't particularly done in recent years," Lampard told The Sun. "Don't get me wrong, they've spent good money. It's not as if they've suddenly stopped buying players. But other clubs are spending more and they have to be careful not to get left behind."

This is an idea that Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, has suggested is a reality at Stamford Bridge, with Sanchez a prime example as the Italian said only one club could afford him. He described Chelsea's title win last season as a "little miracle" due to the economic powerhouses in the north-west of England.

"In this moment, there are two teams in this league who are 'top'," he said on Wednesday. "The others have to fight for a place in the Champions League. Last season we did a fantastic job and did a little miracle. This season is showing this.

"It's not simple [to finish above the Manchester clubs] because these big teams continue to improve and invest a lot of money, and there is a gap. These two big clubs can because seriously dangerous for other teams in the world."

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, London, February 25, 2017. Lampard has issued a warning to Chelsea over falling behind the Manchester clubs. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Lampard, who won 13 trophies in as many years at Stamford Bridge, believes there could be a knock-on effect at the club. If they can't afford to compete in the transfer market, and then on the field, then their best players are likely to leave.

"If standards drop, of course questions get asked about your ability to keep your best players,' Lampard said. "So you don't want to get to that point and I don't think it will happen at Chelsea.

"Eden Hazard is the centerpiece of the club and has been the catalyst for their very good performances over the last 18 months. Players will move on but hopefully not Hazard. Chelsea have to try to keep him and build the team around him."

Hazard, the Belgian midfielder who won PFA Player of the Year in 2015, has been linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid and is said to be holding out for a move, stalling on a new deal at Chelsea.

In December, Hazard's father, Thierry, claimed his son was holding out for a move to Real Madrid. "What I can reveal about Eden is that he refused a contract extension," he said, as quoted by Le Soir. "This was so that, if necessary, he could follow the interest of Real, whom he could see himself playing for."