With it seemingly likely that Frank Lampard won’t receive a contract extension at Chelsea, theknightlyblog investigates why it is crucial that Abramovich swallows his pride and finally offers Frank the extension he deserves.
When you consider Lampard, the first element of his play that springs to mind is the trademark long range strikes, fizzing past helpless goalkeepers. In fact, you would struggle to name any other midfielder who is as free scoring as Lampard, especially central midfield players.
It is goals where I believe you certainly see Lampard’s greatest achievement. In the Premier League era, he is the 4th highest scorer, above some of the most prolific scorers to grace the English game. Examples include Michael Owen, Les Ferdinand (scoring 12 and 13 less Premier League goals than Lampard respectively). Possibly even more remarkable though, is that with 1 more goal, Lampard will have scored more premier league goals than Robbie Fowler, who during his time at Liverpool was a deadly finisher. Overall, this shows that his goal scoring ability is far superior to even many strikers, meaning that he far surpasses the role of a midfielder and can be a source of priceless goals.
The fact that at 34 Lampard is Chelsea’s highest Premier League scorer for the 2012-13 campaign so far, shows that his goals are if anything, more important than ever, as the team is without a real established striker; Torres is still far from firing on all cylinders and Ba still finding his feet at the club. Surely, this is evidence that an extension is a necessity because currently Chelsea doesn’t have a figure to fill the staggering void that he will leave in the squad.
Passing Ability and Assists
Alongside Lampard’s scoring ability is his passing ability and accuracy, as throughout his career he has had the ability to pick players out for fun, whether it is long or short range passing. Displays earlier this season illustrated the impressive nature of his passing, as Lampard was passing on the volley across the field to Juan Mata with ease, controlling the ball perfectly to his feet. Furthermore, these qualities are evident via the fact that in each of the last 13 seasons, Lampard has completed over 1400 passes per season, showing the amount of activity that he is involved in on a regular basis.
In addition, Lampard is second in the Premier League assist chart, with 89 assists, illustrating the focus and attacking nature of his general play along with his team mentality as it illustrates that Lampard is equally comfortable setting up goals as scoring them himself. These statistics prove the opinion that Lampard is the complete midfielder and suggest that it isn’t just goals that Chelsea will need to replace but the playmaking skills.
Frank Lampard is among the last of a dying breed, players who don’t kiss the badge one week and ask for a transfer the next. Since joining Chelsea in June 2001, Lampard has been dedicated to Chelsea making 593 appearances in 13 seasons at the club. In the days of high wages and multiple transfers, it is not often that you see a player at a team for 13 consecutive seasons and his drive to stay at Chelsea and push for trophies as opposed to joining other top foreign clubs when the going gets tough is admirable.
This loyalty needs repaying, as he has been a consistently outstanding performer for Chelsea, justifying his selection on a weekly basis and has been an integral part of all the successes Chelsea have experienced since Abramovich’s take over in 2003. Common decency would suggest that Lampard deserves the reward of an extension for all the success that he has brought Abramovich over the years. Furthermore, the aforementioned consistency means he knows that it is a worthwhile investment and one that if he doesn’t make, another top English team or any team for that matter will.
During his time at Chelsea, Lampard has won 12 major trophies and played in numerous big matches, be it semi-finals, finals or crucial league games, meaning his cool head in big games is crucial to settling the mood of the team. When this is combined with John Terry the leadership throughout the team is strong and the backbone of the team reinforced with not just quality but tactical knowledge and leadership.
His leadership was in full evidence during last season’s Champions League final as in the absence of the suspended Terry it was Lampard who led the team to victory and the clubs first Champions League success. He was able to focus the fairly young players around him and via his pure professionalism lead them to beat Bayern Munich on penalties, making sure that he scored his penalty to keep Chelsea in the final.
This experience isn’t just crucial on match days though, it is also crucial on the training ground as playing with one of the greatest midfielders of a generation can only be positive for the development of Chelsea’s young players like Marin and Oscar, who as attacking midfielders will be tasked if not now but in the future, of playing the ‘Lampard’ role. Thus, by keeping Lampard around the squad, not only does it strengthen the team now, but in the future, as they develop the next generation of Chelsea players.
Finally, the last area which Abramovich has to take in to consideration is the fans. Chelsea fans are already somewhat disillusioned with the mentality of Chelsea, as the revolving door has seen a remarkable turnover of managers since the Russian billionaire took over. Furthermore, the appointment of the anti-Chelsea Benitez has led to a very negative atmosphere at Stamford Bridge this season, with widespread protests illustrated by banners at the fact Benitez is manager. It has truly angered many fans that a man, who implied he wouldn’t manage Chelsea if they were the last team on Earth, is employed at Chelsea. You feel that losing one of the most loved Chelsea players ever through his stubbornness will anger these fans further and make them even more vocal in their displeasure. Loyalty I’m sure will keep the fans returning to Stamford Bridge, but the negative atmosphere is not one that a team can truly flourish in. Clearly, pacifying this by finding a new manager in the summer and retaining the services of the 34-year-old Englishman would bring back the atmosphere last present during the Di Matteo reign at the beginning of the season.
Overall, the statistics don’t lie and the inclusion of Lampard so high up on many of the Premier League statistics illustrates the player that he has been for Chelsea. Any man with 200 goals from midfield is remarkable and a feat that is rarely achieved and may never be achieved again. The fact that he can still do this at 34 means his form hasn’t dropped and that he is still as able to compete at the top level of football as ever in his career. His loyalty and status as a cult hero at Chelsea make him huge part of the Chelsea ethos and of so many successful Chelsea teams. For all of these elements and his incredible wealth of trophy winning experience, Lampard should be offered a contract extension and anything else he wants, as Mr Abramovich owes a lot of Chelsea’s success to the infamous career of Super Frankie Lampard!
By Alex Knight (theknightlyblog)
(Image Courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk)