New Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard has admitted that he would definitely still be a Chelsea player if he was offered a new contract during the summer, but he knew it was time to move on after a frank discussion with Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
Lampard is nothing short of a Chelsea legend and won every major honour possible during a glittering 13-year stay at Stamford Bridge, but Blues chiefs decided not to offer the club's all-time top goalscorer a new deal when his contract expired at the end of last season.
Despite knowing the 36-year-old would move on it must still as come as a shock to Chelsea fans when Lampard signed a short-term deal with Premier League rivals City, but the 106-cap international told The Sun he is now focused on making a mark during what promises to be a short stay at the Etihad.
In a lengthy interview Lampard insisted that Mourinho was brilliant with the he handled a difficult situation, but the veteran still doesn't know who had the final say on ending his Chelsea career.
He said: "There was no reason for me to leave. Yes, I wanted to play a bit more regularly but I’m not stupid.
“If Chelsea had given me a new contract it would have been mad not to take it at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could still do it. If I felt like that I wouldn’t have gone to City on loan.
“I had a chat with Jose Mourinho and both he and the club were always great with me. The decision was made – and I don’t know who made it.”
Chelsea are finally starting the process of dismantling a spine of a team that has consistently delivered trophies over the last decade, with Lampard shifted out to make way for ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas in central midfield.
Petr Cech remains but only as deputy to new number one Thibaut Courtois and Didier Drogba is back in West London but only to provide reliable strike cover.
Captain John Terry remains a trusted stalwart in central defence but there's no question Mourinho is attempting to shift things round in search of Premier League supremacy, with Lampard alongside Ashley Cole as a victim of that process.
New targets to strive for
The prospect of a new adventure in Major League Soccer with New York City FC now looms large for Lampard, but first there is the realistic prospect that could end up making his debut for City against Chelsea on September 21st.
Lampard is in full training with City and now working towards adding steel and experience to their title charge, but there's a good chance that could come at the expense of his favourite club if he proves to be a success when called upon.