With each passing day, the chances of Chelsea giving in to fan, media, and player pressure and offering Frank Lampard an extension on his contract get slimmer and slimmer.
LA Galaxy have emerged as a potential destination but a move to the United States, even with a loan back to Europe in the run up to the World Cup, could destroy Lampard’s England ambitions.
According to the Sunday People, LA Galaxy will not only offer a $4.5m per year salary and a rent-free house, but a stint in Europe – like David Beckham’s moves to AC Milan – to keep Lampard in contention for a place in England’s World Cup squad. The problem is this may not be enough.
Lampard has 13 goals this season, including 11 in 19 league games. He has scored 199 goals for Chelsea – missing the opportunity to reach 200 when Joe Hart saved his penalty as Chelsea lost to Manchester City on Sunday – and sits only three goals behind Bobby Tambling’s all-time club record.
It is inevitable Lampard will reach and surpass both landmarks but it does not appear enough to earn a stay of execution at Stamford Bridge.
Only six caps away from reaching a century of appearances for England, Lampard could reach several other landmarks this year but if he wants to continue playing for England then he needs to consider his next career move very carefully.
A move to LA Galaxy will put him out of the English public’s minds, his achievements in the States will always be accompanied with an asterisk pointing at the quality of the MLS, and with so many young players like Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, as well as the usual stalwarts Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, Scott Parker and many others, Lampard needs to stay in the spotlight to be in Roy Hodgson’s thinking.
If the ex-West Ham midfielder moves to America, only to come back to England in a temporary switch, questions will arise about why he did not stay in England in the first place.
If he is willing to join another Premier League team other than Chelsea for a three-month loan stint, why not sign on for a full season? Will he be able to step straight into the starting line-up? How good will his loan club be? Will he be able to adapt to another new side, manager and teammates?
If Lampard decides to move to Europe, will he get the media attention he needs to retain his England place? Will he be able to answer questions about his physical decline if he plays in a slower paced league than England? Will he get enough games? Will he return to the US or stay in Europe until the World Cup squad is announced?
Roy Hodgson is unlikely to drop Lampard because he moved to the US like Steve McClaren did with David Beckham, however the England manager has shown a ruthless side in his refusal to consider Rio Ferdinand for a recall.
If it comes down to a choice between two players for one spot – one who has played a full season in the rough and tumble of the Premier League and one who has had a three month sojourn in Europe, but otherwise plied his trade in the MLS, Hodgson will have to show great courage, or loyalty, to shun the player from England’s top division.
A move to LA Galaxy, and whatever that entails, will not be enough to rule Lampard out of the England reckoning. It will, however, raise enough questions that result in Lampard losing out.
There are a lot of players battling to get into England’s midfield, and there are 14 months for an outsider to make a late push.
If Lampard really wants to play in one last tournament for England, he has no choice but to turn down LA Galaxy this summer.
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