Wilfried Zaha, Kai Havertz, Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani and Ben Chilwell have got the “I don’t want to talk about a player at another club” treatment at various points since January.
Fair enough, to be expected, but with that in mind it was interesting to hear the head coach take a mildly different approach in reply to a question about Declan Rice in the build-up to tonight’s game.
For the first time when faced with one of those questions, Lampard was willing to engage, praising the 21-year-old as a “good player” before adding a key qualification.
Perhaps it was down to Rice being in the academy at Cobham but it was certainly fuel to the transfer rumour fire despite the second part of his response.
“Declan Rice is a good player,” Lampard said on Tuesday afternoon. “I have known Declan Rice for a long time in Chelsea’s academy, but there is no talk, and I will keep saying that with games to play.”
Too often it has felt like Rice, wearing the armband for the second time in the league with Mark Noble hamstrung, is trying to do it all for West Ham during this latest season of struggle.
Take the moment five minutes in when he intercepted a low Willian cross from the left, charged forward and ended up on the right wing after underlapping with Jarrod Bowen.
There were no options and he was crowded out by blue shirts but it is worth asking the simple question of whether West Ham would be in so much trouble had more of his team-mates shown a similar level of commitment throughout the campaign.
He was a constant thorn in the Blues’ side: nicking the ball off the outstanding Christian Pulisic with a stretched toe one second, setting his team away on a rare attack by cleverly intercepting from Ross Barkley the next.
There was a booking for clattering Pulisic midway through the second half but this was a game in which he reiterated his value to his current team and showed how much of an asset he would be to a top-four side and summed up by starting the move that led to Andriy Yarmolenko’s dramatic last-minute winner.
Yet a feeling persists that Rice may not be the right fit for this Chelsea.
The biggest question is where would he fit in a midfield already stacked with personnel? The problem for Lampard has been more about finding the right formula than a shortage of options.
At the moment Chelsea have seven players fighting for three spots. If Rice was to return at least one would need to leave.
West Ham made an enquiry about Barkley in January but that was a non-starter at the time and the former Everton player has impressed either side of lockdown.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek should become more of a presence this month as he sharpens up from a year out with that achilles injury, excitement is high over Billy Gilmour’s future, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante will not be sold, and Jorginho is only going to depart if someone offers a lot of money.
Regardless of Chelsea’s interest, for Rice much will depend on whether West Ham stay up.
Before this much-improved performance and surprise, deserved result, it looked like West Ham would survive on the basis of three teams being worse than them.
Now their case has been very much strengthened and the heavy defeats suffered by Bournemouth and Norwich earlier in the evening helped in the goal difference stakes.
The overriding point, however, is that there seems zero prospect of Rice, plus many others in this expensively-assembled squad, playing in the Championship. And that is before considering financial constraints for any club facing the drop.
Whether it comes from a return to Chelsea, hoping West Ham pull their act together or at another destination remains to be seen but Rice is too good to be turning out for teams threatened by relegation.