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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Chelsea: What does the future hold for Frank Lampard?


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Sqf Apoorva Ankur 

The Frank Lampard saga at Chelsea shows no sign of abating. Every day, news outlets link him to clubs of all sizes and reputation. Some debate whether a player of Lampard's calibre should go to a certain club.

This articles seeks to discuss some of these questions that have come to light in this context.

Will he leave?

One thing is clear, Lampard has been one of the most important Premier League players of his generation. He has won trophies by the bucketload and established himself as a prolific midfielder across Europe in this time at Chelsea.

The Blues have gradually migrated towards a policy of not offering players on the wrong side of 30 any long term deals. The word is that one-year extensions are the order of the day and if that is unacceptable to a player, he is allowed to leave. Seen within the parameters of this 'rule' does Lampard deserve to be an exception given his loyal service to the club?

The short answer, according to news reports, is no. The club seeks to build a younger core of players that will take the club forward. There are several reasons behind this. One, once the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules are in place, extravagant purchases will not be the accepted custom at big clubs including Chelsea. Player sales will have to be used to fund new acquisitions. Hence, it makes sense to drop a big wage earner who is not going to play all the time for the club.

Also the managerial merry-go-round has been attributed to player power at Chelsea. The core of senior players have been accused of booting a manager out if they don't agree to his ways and so on. It so happens that FFP rules coincide with an attempt on part of the club to change this philosophy of debunking player power at the club.

See in these two contexts, the departure of Lampard makes technical sense, both financially and with an eye on the future of the club.

Where will he go?

Assuming that Chelsea stick to their guns and let Lampard leave at the end of the season, he is free to negotiate with any club and there is no shortage of top clubs willing to offer him a deal.

Lampard has been a thorough professional and if he is forced to leave the club he would certainly treat his exit as offering him a chance to take up another challenge in Europe. Various clubs such as Inter Milan and even Manchester United are rumoured to be after his services.

What it means for Chelsea?

Let's not delude ourselves into believing that Lampard's exit would not affect Chelsea in a big way. Lampard has been at the helm of Chelsea's midfield for nearly a decade and any team would take a while to overcome the loss of such a player.

Rafa Benitez has promoted David Luiz in a holding role with a fair amount of success, but he is yet to convince me. He is a good passer of the ball and can create magic in dead-ball situations but is prone to give the ball away far too many times. His shooting accuracy from long ranges is appalling to say the least and against better teams, giving the ball away even in midfield can have dangerous implications.

Unless Chelsea sign a genuine defensive midfielder or an all-action midfielder like Lampard, they will find the going rough in Europe and against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal who possess enough firepower to find spaces between midfield and defence, at pace.

The names linked with Stamford Bridge are Paulinho and Taison, who are not defensive in their mindset and it beats logic considering when there is such an abundance of attacking talent at Chelsea that the likes of Marin and Piazon barely get a look in. To add to that, potential stars like Kevin De Bruyne are on loan.

Finally, if Lampard indeed leaves the club, the fans are right to feel cheated by the club hierarchy, but they must not lose sight of the fact that Lampard must get a farewell accorded to the very best in the club's history. For the player and the person that Super Frank has been, nothing else will suffice.

Calling all Chelsea fans: What are your views on the Lampard situation? Should he be given a new contract at the club or do you agree that it's time for Lampard to move on? Where do you think Lampard will end up? Could he really head north and sign for Manchester United? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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