Frank Lampard has been freed to open talks with Chelsea about becoming their next boss, with Derby hoping for a quick resolution to a long-running saga.
Speculation regarding a return to Stamford Bridge for a Blues legend has raged for some time.
Talk of a move to west London for Lampard had started to build before Maurizio Sarri moved on.
He has since headed back to his native Italy at Juventus, leaving a void to be filled at Chelsea.
Lampard quickly emerged as the firm favourite to take the reins, with the ex-England international boasting strong ties to the club from his playing days.
Derby have reluctantly agreed to let the 41-year-old enter into negotiations and stressed that they want a long-running saga brought to a close as swiftly as possible.
The Rams said in a statement on their official website: “Derby County Football Club can confirm that they have granted permission for Chelsea Football Club to speak to Frank Lampard about the vacant managerial position at Stamford Bridge.
“With pre-season fast approaching for both clubs it is hoped this will allow Chelsea to swiftly conclude their discussions.
“The club will make no further comment until it is appropriate to do so.”
Lampard is just one season into his management career.
He hung up his boots in 2016 and spent two years weighing up his options before moving into coaching.
The former West Ham midfielder was given a route into management by Derby, where he impressed during his debut campaign in the dugout, with the Rams reaching the play-off final.
A Premier League promotion bid was ended by Aston Villa at Wembley, but Lampard had shown what he is capable of.
Chelsea believe they can be the ones to benefit from further potential.
Lampard spent 13 years with the club as a player, collecting countless major honours along the way – including three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League crown.
His appointment would be popular among Blues supporters, but he would be stepping into a testing role that will see him having to work under a two-window transfer embargo.
If he does accept that challenge, though, then he will likely take another former Chelsea star with him back to Stamford Bridge, with Jody Morris having worked as his assistant at Derby.
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