Lampard must stay to oversee Chelsea transition

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Frank Lampard could have lined-up against Chelsea on Wednesday evening had Andre Villas-Boas had his way, but the former outlasted the latter at Stamford Bridge to oversee the most famous night in the club's history.

The Blues met the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia last night and, such was Lampard's apparent decline in status at Chelsea last season, he could have swapped the Premier League for its American counterpart.

With the departure of Villas-Boas, however, came the ascension of Lampard to his rightful place at the Bridge, and with it a renewed sense of vim and vigour from a side creaking from years battling for trophies.

Victory at Wembley in the final of the FA Cup came against Liverpool before, only a week later, the elusive Champions League trophy was captured by a London club for the very first time.

Regardless of his lung-busting performances in pursuit of the ultimate club prize, Lampard - aged 34 - is still without guarantee of a regular place at Chelsea, and the summer acquisitions would suggest his star may be in decline once again.

Just like one of Lampard's characteristic late surges into the penalty area, Roman Abramovich's spending sprees have arrived with watch-setting regularity ever since his arrival in west London nine years ago.

Many observers, perhaps naively, expected the Russian to curtail his lavish spending this summer with Financial Fair Play occupying his mind, but Abramovich has already outlaid over £60 million on new recruits.

The most notable of which have been Eden Hazard from Lille and Brazilian youngster Oscar, both additions to the midfield department and both of whom will provide extreme competition for Lampard moving forward.

Lampard's position in Chelsea's midfield once seemed insurmountable and although he can still contribute significantly - as 16 goals last term prove - next season could well be his last.

For the time being, however, Lampard sees Chelsea's summer signings as a reason for optimism for the whole rather than pessimism for the self, and has been impressed with the business of the club's owner.

“It’s an evolution of the team and not a complete revolution,” he said during the club's pre-season tour of the USA.

“But there’s a bit of a new look. It’s something that people were saying had to be done for the last couple of years because we had a so-called ‘old’ team.

"We’re not messing about and the owner’s shown his desire to get a fresh new team.”

But for how long will Lampard be part of this Chelsea 'evolution'? Well, his contract expires in 12 months, and the informed opinion would be that he follow the lead of Didier Drogba and leave west London for a lucrative final contract.

Lampard, though, has expressed a tentative desire to end his career with Chelsea, and it is surely imperative that the club strive to retain his services beyond the terms of his current deal.

Chelsea are a team in transition, and the same will apply this time next year, and the influence of Lampard in the next phase of the club's progression must not be undervalued.

The Blues tried to keep Drogba, but didn't try hard enough, and must show more intent to retain the services of Lampard before he is drawn to the lights of Hollywood or the Far East.

In Lampard, Chelsea possess not only one of the finest players of his generation, but an intelligent and analytical brain, and whose know-how can be vitally important to any future success.

Chelsea now have both an inexperienced squad and an inexperienced manager, with Lampard boasting more appearances to his name as a player than Roberto di Matteo can across both stages of his football career. And there is no better person for the Chelsea manager to take counsel from than Lampard.

Lampard's name will be one forever synonymous with Chelsea given his contribution in over a decade with the club. But it is vitally important Chelsea squeeze every last drop out of Lampard as a player, while they still can.

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