Frank Lampard has moved a step closer to being appointed Chelsea manager after he was granted permission to hold talks by current club Derby.
The 41-year-old has been the heavy favourite to take over at Stamford Bridge following the departure of Maurizio Sarri to Serie A champions Juventus on June 16.
Former midfielder Lampard scored a club-record 211 goals and won 11 major trophies with the Blues during a glittering playing career.
“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,” read a statement on Derby’s website.
“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.”
Chelsea are searching for their 12th different manager of the Roman Abramovich era after Italian Sarri cut short his three-year deal to return to his homeland after just one season.
Former England international Lampard began his managerial career last summer and guided Derby to last month’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final where they were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa.
Chelsea would have to pay compensation to take Lampard away from Pride Park as he has two years remaining on his contract.
Should he switch clubs, he will have Champions League football to prepare for next season after Sarri secured a third-place finish, as well as Europa League success.
However, he is likely to be restricted by a two-window transfer ban imposed by FIFA, which the club have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The sanction could lead to first-team opportunities for some of the club’s academy talent, including the likes of England Under-21 pair Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, who Lampard managed at County during loan spells last season.
After joining from boyhood club West Ham for £11million in 2001, Lampard made 648 appearances for the Blues.
He won the 2012 Champions League and 2013 Europa League with the club, as well as lifting three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
He left west London in 2014 and had a short stint with Manchester City, before ending his 21-year professional career in Major League Soccer with New York City.
Lampard won 106 international caps, scoring 29 times and playing at three World Cups and Euro 2004.