For the umpteenth season in a row, Frank Lampard has continued to roll back the advancing years to notch up a goal-scoring record that most strikers would be proud of – just ask Fernando Torres. 13 goals and 2 assists in 33 games this season has brought him up to 199 goals and 130 assists in his twelfth season at the Bridge. He is the only player to have scored 10+ goals in 10 consecutive Premier League seasons. He has the most goals (161) of any Premier League midfielder ever. He has won no less than twelve trophies at Chelsea and has been crucial in each one.
And still, he isn’t being offered an extension to his contract that runs out at the end of this season. Which begs the question, why? Well, I’ll try to answer that, looking at it from the board’s perspective, because they are the people that matter.
#1: Age :
Much has been said about Chelsea’s recent policy of not offering a contract longer than 1 year to players over the age of 30. This policy saw Didier Drogba leave at the end of last season, and the same seems to be happening to Lampard, Ferreira, Benayoun, Malouda and Hilario this season. At the same time, a new generation has been emerging from the academy. Nathan Ake, who made his first Chelsea start last night, is a prime example.
There are too many promising youngsters at Chelsea to list, and what is wrong with allowing one of them e.g. Josh McEachran, who is 15 years younger than Lampard, to take over? And if we won’t break our policy for Drogba, Malouda or Ferreira, who have been fantastic servants to Chelsea, why should we break our policy for Lampard?
Frank Lampard, along with Fernando Torres, John Terry and Eden Hazard, is one of Chelsea’s highest paid players. Lampard’s wages are believed to be £150,000 per week, which sets us back £7.8m per year. In perspective, the signings of Ba, Azpilicueta and Marin were all less than that, so is it worth retaining Lampard as the expense of signing someone younger, with outstanding talent and lower wages? Is a 34-year-old Lampard without any sale value more valuable to the club than buying a Demba Ba or Cesar Azpilicueta every year, who will be on significantly lower wages?
#3: To keep Lampard motivated:
With 199 Chelsea goals, Super Frank is just 3 goals away from equalling the Chelsea record of 202 club goals, held by Bobby Tambling. At his current rate, Lampard is well on course to break the record before the end of the season. 4 goals in two and a half months isn’t easy, but should be no problem for Lampard, provided he gets sufficient game-time. But if the time available to Lampard was 14 and a half months, not two and a half, that would be a guarantee that he would become the all-time leading goal-scorer.
Clearly, the title of Chelsea’s all-time highest goal-scorer is something that any Chelsea player past, present or future would love, Lampard as much as anyone. So could this be a clever ploy by the club? There is a quantifiable chance that he won’t break the record this season, and could be stuck on 201 goals and be forced out, if he doesn’t continue to play at the highest level and smash in the goals. But is the time-frame was longer, and he had another season or two to go, Lampard would be able to relax, safe in the knowledge that he would very easily claim the crown of top goal-scorer, eventually. While I strongly doubt this would be the case (Lampard has always given 100% to the cause and always will) it is possible that the club is planning to keep Frank pushing for more goals until he gets the record, at which point he is offered the contract he covets. If he doesn’t get to 203 this season, he’ll get an extension to 2014 that sees him comfortably break the record. Clearly, this would be the ideal scenario.
#4: The club wants to promote from within:
As I mentioned earlier, there is a phenomenal crop of youngsters emerging at Chelsea. Guys like Courtois, Wallace, Kane, Kalas, Omeruo, Bruma, Ake, van Aanholt, Chalobah, McEachran, Musonda, De Bruyne, Piazon, Oscar, Boga, Feruz and Lukaku all look set for a fantastic future at SW6. Not all will become first-team regulars, but all have the potential to.
Have I missed any? Probably. There is surely no other club in world football with as many world-class prospects up their sleeves as Chelsea.
But who could replace Lampard? The truthful answer is that Lampard is a one-off. Finding a suitable replacement to score the goals that he has scored, from midfield, might well be impossible. But which Lampard is it that we want to replace? Is it the 2005 version, the hybrid of a classy box-to-box midfielder with a goal poacher’s instinct? Or the latest edition, the deep-lying playmaker that still makes runs from deep and scores goals? Personally, I’m more inclined to say the latter. The 2005 Frank Lampard was probably the better player, and scored more goals, but attacking midfield is Chelsea’s strongest position. Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Marin, Piazon. That position is covered. So a central midfielder, who is disciplined in his defending and can execute perfectly timed runs from deep to plunder goals. Our leading candidates look like being Oscar, Kevin De Bruyne, Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran and David Luiz. I’ll analyse them all in the next Part of this series.
Part 1 here : http://chelseafc360.com/2013/03/01/why-frank-lampard-hasnt-been-given-a-new-contract-part-1/
Part 2 here : http://chelseafc360.com/2013/03/03/why-lampard-hasnt-been-given-a-new-contract-part-2/