Derby County chiefs fear they could lose Frank Lampard to Chelsea after what he has achieved with them within a season.
Blues legend Lampard is on the verge of taking Derby back to the Premier League after just one season in management.
Lampard is hot favourite to replace Maurizio Sarri whose days look numbered regardless of whether they win the Europa League next week.
Derby face a £180m Wembley shootout with Aston Villa on Monday for a place back at football’s top table.
But their Championship final preparations are being clouded by mounting speculation that Chelsea are ready to pounce for Lampard.
Derby chairman Mel Morris is desperate to keep his man but accepts that he might be facing a losing battle should Chelsea come calling.
Lampard himself has described guiding Derby to the Championship play-off final as one of his best achievements in football.
Derby fought back from 2-0 down on aggregate to beat Leeds United 4-3 over two legs and reach Wembley.
It is Lampard’s first season as a manager, after retiring in 2017.
“In terms of personal achievement, the feeling is as much as I have had in football,” he said.
“It’s not the personal achievement of being able to win stuff at Chelsea, but in terms of how I feel right now, it’s up there.
“I was fortunate in my playing career in the Champions League, winning leagues.
“But when you come here at the start of the season and you feel the club and the fans and the position the club were in, to be here tonight, they’re heroes,” Lampard said during BBC radio interview.