Friday, March 24, 2006

Lampard leaving Chelsea? Don't bet on it!

We are constantly being subjected to gossip regarding the future of Frank Lampard. Papers are speculating that he will move to Barcelona in the close season, and Barca themselves have spoken of their admiration for the player.

However I believe Lampard will not move to Barcelona, and will stay at Chelsea.

Why? Well for a start there is his love for Chelsea. He has gone on record numerous times saying how much he loves the club, the fans and indeed the manager, and also been quoted as saying that he would love to spend the rest of his career at Chelsea. The most recent of these was at the world player of the year awards when he was asked about his future.

An interviewer before the Barcelona match asked him how he would like to be remembered and Lampard spoke of how he’d like to be remembered as a key player in a great Chelsea team that dominated English football over a long period and won major trophies at home and in Europe. Almost as an afterthought he said that he hoped he would be at Chelsea long enough to achieve that. He’s also spoken of becoming Chelsea’s leading goalscorer in Europe and of breaking his own record of 160 consecutive league games while at Chelsea. Not only this, but he has only just bought a new house in London for him and his family. None of this sounds like a man thinking about leaving.

There is also Chelsea’s clear desire for him to stay. Jose Mourinho said recently that he wanted Chelsea to give Lampard a contract for life and that no club would be able to offer enough to tempt Chelsea to sell. Peter Kenyon has also said that the club have no intention of selling.

Not only this, but the arguments the media give for his leaving all flawed.

The first argument is that because Chelsea are trying to sign Michael Ballack, then he must be coming to replace Lampard, or that it will upset Lampard enough to make him leave. This is flawed purely and simply because Chelsea are looking to build a strong squad, not just a strong first team. Signing Ballack would allow them to rotate and rest players and cope with injuries and suspensions. Lampard is also not the sort to leave a club because they have bought another player in his position. In fact, not only would Lampard not feel threatened by Ballack’s arrival but see it as a challenge and incentive to raise his game, which would be great for both England and Chelsea.

The second argument is that because Lampard’s girlfriend and her family are from Barcelona then it would be easier for everyone if he went to Barcelona. This is flawed. Lampard and his girlfriend have been together for a while, indeed they have a child together and live together in London. Judging by Lampard’s character, his future would not be decided on this basis, but on a professional basis.

The final argument is that Barcelona are one of the world’s biggest clubs and seemingly have a better chance of winning the Champions League than Chelsea, and would possibly be able to offer him a bigger contract. The issue with the contract is a non-issue. Not only is Lampard not interested in who can pay the most, but Chelsea could out-do any contract offer from Barcelona. As to the issue of the club’s status and Champions League prospects, that would seem to be the case judging by the result against Barcelona. However, Lampard knows Chelsea are building something at Stamford Bridge. They themselves now are becoming a big club and in the last three seasons have come within one match on the Champions League final on two occasions. They will strengthen undoubtedly in the summer, in particular in the striking position, and will improve for season. Chelsea have come so close to the Champions League final twice and with a touch more improvement and now more experience it can only be a matter of time before they win the tournament. In fact, Lampard has been quoted as saying he wants to win the Champions League with Chelsea.

For all these reasons, and with no tangible evidence, as in quotes from the man himself or the hierarchy at Chelsea, to support them – in fact all this points to the exact opposite – can only lead to the conclusion that although Barcelona may want to sign Frank Lampard, the chances of them signing him are virtually zero.