With the imminent end of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea career now a seeming inevitability, it appears the next chapter of the England man’s long and distinguished career is destined to lie away from the Barclays Premier League.
While it borders along the line of folly to take such gossip as footballing gospel, the recent reports over the weekend linking Lampard with a move to LA Galaxy aren’t the first time a MLS sojourn has been mooted for the 34-year-old. Interest from Serie A, in which Lampard’s agent Steve Kutner appeared to confirm earlier this month, is also thought to remain.
Naturally, following the club’s contractual U-turn towards Ashley Cole, fresh hope has been sprung amongst some fans that a Frank Lampard departure may not be as signed, sealed and delivered as some have made out. Yet whether Cole’s arguably longer shelf-life has afforded him a change of heart or whether the ex-Arsenal man has simply been deemed too hard to replace, the signs are beginning to look ominous for hopes of a similar outcome for Lampard.
Regardless of the merits of Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea hierarchy’s decision not to offer Lampard renewed terms – if you can indeed find any – with the focus now beginning to switch to what now lies next for Lampard, it seems unlikely that the ex-West Ham midfielder isn’t likely to be stuck for choice when he becomes a free agent this summer.
And it’s within the United States- and LA Galaxy in particular – that Lampard’s likely to find one of the most attractive options to continue his career post-Stamford Bridge. A move to Los Angeles would have obvious lifestyle benefits and while Lampard isn’t in the same ballpark as David Beckham commercially, you’d have thought that he could expect a sizeable windfall from both a sponsorship standpoint and a basic salary, too.
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Even from a footballing perspective, a move to Major League Soccer isn’t without its benefits, either. While it obviously can’t hold a torch to any of European football’s elite divisions, MLS is a an ever-expanding, competitive league and it’s nowhere near the walk in the park that the tired stereotype adheres to.
Lampard would be in good company alongside the likes of Thierry Henry, Torsten Frings and Alessandro Nesta in plying his trade in the States and should he go to LA Galaxy, he’d have no shortage of recognizable faces there, either. The pairing of Robbie Keane and former-Everton forward Landon Donavan are currently in residence at the Home Depot Centre, alongside the recently acquired Carlo Cudicini, a one-time teammate of Lampard’s.
With the attractive way of life, even more attractive rate of pay and a level of football of which Lampard can expect to prosper within his final years as a footballer, it almost all seems like an all too-simple decision to make for the one time Swansea-loanee.
But while no one can claim Lampard hasn’t earned the right to a cozy last hurrah in America, the fact remains that he still has what it takes to continue to fight for trophies at the very highest level the game has to offer.
From the vicious boo-boys at West Ham to those who doubted his ability to cut it in an England shirt, Frank Lampard seems to have spent his entire career proving people wrong. But why stop now?
It might seem unlikely that a man who’s won everything there is to win in the domestic game is likely to herald proving a stubborn billionaire wrong as high amongst his life’s priorities.
Although with Abramovich seemingly forcing Lampard out of the club which he’s given his heart to over a 12-year period, the Englishman has the perfect opportunity to vindicate the hordes of supporters who have been so passionate in their cries for him to stay at the club. In doing that however, there is little room for the beaches of California and an MLS adventure.
If Lampard truly does have an opportunity to ply his trade in Italy when his contract expires during the summer, then regardless of anything else he may have on the table, he must pack his suitcases and head for Serie A.
Whether it be AC Milan or a potential move to Lazio as his agent suggested a couple of weeks ago, a move to Italian football offers Lampard not only the chance to prove his doubters wrong, but also a chance to end his career in a cascade of glory.
Be it the fabled success of older professionals within AC Milan’s fabled Milanello complex or even Andrea Pirlo’s recent talismanic title-winning showings for Juventus, Lampard won’t find his date of birth causing him any harm in terms of finding himself an Italian home. With a move to another English club potentially damaging his Chelsea legacy and a move to one of the Spanish giants looking unlikely, a move to Serie A is perhaps his last realistic chance at competing on an elite stage.
But if the chance is there, then it’s a stage Lampard rightfully belongs on. While his age might tell one side of the story, his performances tell another; he’s outscored only by Juan Mata and Fernando Torres this season and with eight Premier League goals already, Lampard is only two short of hitting double figures for ten consecutive seasons. Be it Milan, LA Galaxy or Lazio, those looking to secure Lampard aren’t doing so on past reputation – they’re doing it on present performance.
A stint in Italy could see Lampard win a league title, secure his England spot at the next World Cup or even have a late run in the Champions League. But perhaps for however many medals he may end up eventually winning, it’s perhaps proving his one last doubter wrong that could prove as sweet as any amount of silverware.