The rumour of Frank Lampard to Manchester United has been doing the rounds again, a year after we first heard the Chelsea vice-captain was linked to us. Back then, Lampard had 18 months remaining on his contract and it appeared as though the club were still keen to negotiate an extension. Still, with time running out, there was some speculation that Chelsea would be prepared to sell him to recoup some money, rather than allow him to leave on a free the following year.
Ferguson was asked about the chances of a deal being done. He was quick to dismiss the reports whilst still flattering the player, calling him one of Chelsea’s best players.
“You are not going to tell me Chelsea would sell Frank Lampard to Manchester United in January. Do you really believe that?” he said. “There is no foundation to that. Chelsea are like us. They want to do something. The second half of the season is going to be important to them. If they want to try and win the league they will need to have all their best players.”
A year has gone by and now it appears as though Lampard will definitely be leaving Chelsea. They have recently adopted the policy which only allows them to extend the contract by a year if the player is over 30-years-old and no doubt would be reducing the player’s wages. Lampard’s agent has confirmed that Chelsea won’t be offering him a new deal, likely because they are not prepared to meet the wage demands, so he’s looking for a new club.
The obvious move would be one abroad, after spending years kissing Chelsea’s badge and breaking a host of records at the club. The fans at Stamford Bridge refer to him as a “legend” so it’s hard for players like that to remain in the same league. LA Galaxy had been tipped as favourites and the move to America would suit his career well. He would get a longer contract, meaning he had greater security, and they’d no doubt pay him top dollar.
However, United have apparently made enquiries about the possibility of him joining us, which gives Lampard a lot to think about. Whilst he won’t want to sour his reputation at Chelsea, how many players get the opportunity to play for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United? He’s not an idiot. These are once in a lifetime offers and with his playing career coming to an end, is he really prepared to miss out on something as big as United?
Another issue is the fact he has a fiancee and children based in England, making a move abroad not as simple as it would look, particularly one that is an 11 hour plane journey from London.
Whilst it’s now apparent that the club are interested in signing him, what should the fans make of it?
We’ve been here before a few summers ago when the manager made the bonkers decision to bring in Michael Owen. Whilst our feelings of dislike for Lampard come nothing close to how we felt about the former Liverpool player, they are comparable in the sense that both players were strongly associated with a rival, one historically and one for the title, and both are past their best.
Still, Lampard has managed 10 goals for club and country this season, which shows there’s life in the old dog yet. I suppose the fact five of those have come from the penalty spot makes more sense of that statistic, but the two goals he scored away at Everton in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory a couple of weeks ago are nothing to be scoffed at. It’s more than any of our players managed at Goodison Park!
“Thirty-two now is not what it was 10 years ago,” Lampard said in 2011. “Hopefully I can perform well into my thirties. The Giggses, Scholeses have all gone on and played well into their later 30s. I would love to be able to do that.”
There’s probably another season or two that you could have from him that would be worth taking him for. He’ll get you a few goals, add something to the midfield and give us an option. If it’s a choice between playing Giggs in the centre of midfield or Lampard, I know which I’d go for.
Why we took the gamble on Owen, and why we’re interested in Lampard, is because what comes with signing players of that calibre, even if they’re not as good as they used to be, is professionalism and experience. Having players who have been there, done it and won it all are great to have in the dressing room, particularly when you’re keen to bring through young talent as we are.
I don’t like Lampard, it’s rare for fans to have any time for the best players who represent your title rivals, but I wouldn’t be totally opposed to the signing. He’s no John Terry or Luis Suarez. He has a big decision to make and if he decides that he will risk the wrath of Chelsea fans to play for Manchester United, then he’ll go up in my estimations. If he fancies an easier (and better paid) life in Los Angeles, then fair play to him.
Either way, it’s not something for us to get too worked up over. I’d rather us have a player of his quality and experience in the squad than not, but on the shopping list of ideal midfielders, he would feature a long way down. He would have to be on reasonably good money, which would make sense given that we’d get him on a free, but I would rather we spent that on a player approaching his peak, rather than one that is past it.
Time will tell…