• Club insist any negotiations will 'remain private'
• Lampard expected to leave in summer after 12 years at club
Chelsea have denied reports that they are in discussions with Frank Lampard over extending his contract past this summer.
The club's chief executive, Ron Gourlay, had been quoted as saying that contract negotiations were "ongoing", raising hopes that the veteran England midfielder might prolong his career at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard, 34, is out of contract at the end of June, with the reigning European champions having initially decreed that the summer would be a suitable time for his 12-year spell at the club to draw to a close.
However, no formal offer has been made to the midfielder and on Tuesday Chelsea quickly refuted the reports, adding that any talks with their players "remain confidential".
A number of clubs, including Los Angeles Galaxy and teams in China, had expressed an interest in securing his services when he became a free agent. However, Lampard is reluctant to sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere in the hope that his prolific recent form – he has scored 11 goals in his last 19 appearances for club and country – might prompt Chelsea into a rethink.
Talks of some kind had been anticipated late last month, a reflection of his form and vociferous calls from the fan base to offer the vice-captain a new deal, though it remains to be seen what offer, if any, the Premier League club deliver.
"Obviously conversations must remain confidential between the club and the players at all times so that is as much as I can say," confirmed Gourlay at a press conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Bangkok, where the chief executive was formally announcing the details of Chelsea's pre-season tour for the summer.
That at least suggested there remains a chance Lampard could prolong his stay at Stamford Bridge. The player currently boasts 199 goals for the London club, three shy of the club record currently held by Bobby Tambling, and remains a key member of the current squad.
Gourlay reiterated there were no plans afoot to remove the interim first-team manager, Rafael Benítez, as the team seek to recover their place in the Premier League's top three. Chelsea are currently fourth, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur but five clear of Arsenal following Saturday's much needed victory over West Bromwich Albion.
"It was the club's plan to have Benítez as interim manager with the aim of securing a Champions League position at the end of the Premier League season," said Gourlay. "We'll assess the situation then. We can still win the Europa League and the FA Cup, but make no mistake, our priority lies with a Champions League spot."
Benítez will take his side to Romania for a Europa League last-16 tie against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday before a trip to Old Trafford for Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. The Spaniard has already confirmed he will have left the club by the time Chelsea depart for Thailand on 11 July for pre-season, where they will play a Singha Selection XI at Rajamangala Stadium six days later.
The squad will travel on to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to play further friendlies before returning to London on 26 July.