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Frank Lampard reacts as government sanction Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

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Frank Lampard admits his former club Chelsea are going through a ‘tough moment’ after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government.

The government sanctioned Abramovich and a number of other Russian oligarchs as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions are intended to stop Abramovich from making money from Chelsea and the announcement has halted his plans to sell the Premier League club.

A special licence granted by the government permits Chelsea to keep operating but the club’s future is certainly uncertain, with former star Pat Nevin saying the west Londoners could be in ‘serious danger’.

Reacting to the sanctions imposed on Abramovich and his former club Chelsea, Everton manager Lampard said on Friday afternoon: ‘Well I don’t know the specifics about it other than what all of us have read.

‘I haven’t seen the headlines about people losing their jobs but clearly I managed there for almost two years, I played there for 13 years, so I’ve got plenty of friends at the club and behind the scenes.

‘Obviously from a human level I care about it, especially if it means people are losing their jobs. I don’t know the detail on it.

‘I care about the fans of Chelsea who will be there from the beginning and before us and will be there after us.

‘It’s a tough moment for the club. I don’t want to hang on it too much because I’m the manager of Everton and that’s absolutely my priority.

‘But of course on a human level, for people who are just doing their jobs and giving everything to their jobs – and if those jobs are in danger – you care a lot about that.’

Asked how the Chelsea players will be feeling amid the uncertainty, Lampard added: ‘A lot of players will just concentrate on the job at hand.

‘I tried to do that as a player but this is bigger than that, I understand that. There is some doubt and uncertainty over the future, not just at Chelsea but in the world when we see what’s happening on the news.’

Chelsea were not distracted by the chaos at the club on Thursday night as they beat bottom-placed Norwich City 3-1 to strengthen their grip on third place in the Premier League.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel said: ‘The first half was brilliant. You have a 2-0 lead, It feels like a 3-0 or 4-0 lead.

‘Then you give a penalty away and concede and things get complicated. It’s life. I’m happy with the result.’

On the speculation surrounding Chelsea following the sanctions, Tuchel added: ‘It is big news. It is huge and has a huge impact of course so it is the subject of the talks.

‘Maybe on a day like this you would talk about the Champions League games last night but nobody talks about this. So it nice to enter a schedule before a match as it helps to focus as we’re used to it.

‘We cannot influence it so we allowed ourselves to enjoy it. We have the privilege to play and sometimes it’s good to sweat it out. We tried to work hard to get the focus out.

‘I would love to talk about sport but of course I understand you have a lot of questions. We are also an entertainment so that’s why it is like this.’

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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