Is Chelsea’s policy coming back to haunt them?
Two Chelsea players could be on their way out due to contract disputes and they couldn’t contrast more in importance for the Blues. Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole could be on their way, with the loss of the latter unthinkable considering his continued contribution to the first team.
Cole may be 31 but to risk losing him due to a policy of only offering players a one year extension after they turn 30 is unthinkable. The ex Arsenal man remains by consensus the best in the world in his position and to lose him now would be ridiculous . Cole has suffered a series of ankle problems and may have to be used more sparingly but surely offers too much to be let go on club principle. Ryan Bertrand has emerged as a valuable squad player at the London club, and if Cole becomes no longer able to play more than once a week Chelsea have a valuable deputy. Whether or not Bertrand’s ready to start every week for a side looking to compete at the latter stages of the Champions League and win the Premier League is another matter.
As for Lampard there may not be a better time to move on the England international. He’s 34 and while he never relied on blistering pace, he’s no longer integral to a club he has contributed so much to. Yet to score in open play this season his days as a goal-scoring midfielder are numbered at Chelsea, he now has to play a holding role with creative stars, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar doing a more than apt role creating and scoring chances for the European champions. Without his goals Lampard still offers leadership and experience that can be crucial to the team in difficult fixtures. He was as important as anyone in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, with Andre Villas Boas’s decision to not play him against Napoli away proving fatal in his short career at Chelsea. The one issue with Lampard in this role is that defending never has been part of his game, the 34 year old was part of the Chelsea team that were overran by Athletico Madrid’s fast paced counter attacking. Big matches against Arsenal and Manchester United saw Lampard benched for the more aggressive, combative Ramires. No-longer having an obvious place in the starting line-up now might be the opportune time to cash in on one of the last-stalwarts of Jose Mourinho’s all conquering Chelsea.
In my opinion to lose Ashley Cole while he remains near the height of his powers would be careless regardless of club policy. But with UEFA’s impending financial fair play rules coming into play soon, offering short-term contracts to old, players whose reputation demands a certain wage packet might be wise. My one concern with this policy is just how much great players can achieve in their 30s, Andrea Pirlo is 33 and dominated England in Euro 2012, Xavi Hernandez remains one of the best in the world at 32. Also the need for a blend of experience and youth is crucial. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs still hold great influence on and off the pitch at Manchester United despite being in their late 30s, not to mention Didier Drogba’s inspirational Champions League performances for Chelsea came at the age of 34.
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