After an eventful year in the Premier League, it seems the Champions League will be graced with the royal blue of Chelsea next season.
Tuesday saw the Amsterdam Arena play host to an impressive and exciting clash between Chelsea and Benfica competing for the Europa League title.
After a hard thought game, a late-winner from Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic in injury time granted Chelsea their only major title of the season. However, there was an under-current of uncertainty before the game surrounding Frank Lampard and his future role as a Chelsea player.
On Wednesday, the club extended his contract by a year, keeping him at Chelsea for at least one more season.
Is this just Chelsea baying to pressure from fans and the rest of the football world, or does he have a genuine place there?
Lampard started his professional career at West Ham United, after breaking into the first time for the 1997/98 season. After helping them to finish in fifth position, their highest ever Premier League placing, he moved to Chelsea for £11million in 2001.
He’s now known for his world-class playing style and his consistency, rarely missing a game for the south-west London club. He has also played a major part in all of Chelsea’s recent trophies: Three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two FA Community Shields, one Champions League and the latest Europa League title.
On top of all that, he is the Blues’ top goal scorer, currently sitting on a total of 203 goals in all competitions. That is quite the record in anyone’s books!
Being a club legend, and such a prolific goal scorer, Chelsea would never be able to justify not keeping him at the club until the end of his career.
Fans and football pundits alike cannot see the board’s reasoning. You only have to look elsewhere to see examples of other players that consistently play at a high level into their mid-to-late thirties - Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Manchester United, Carles Puyol at Barcelona, André Pirlo at Milan and Juventus.
Frank Lampard has proven time and time again that he is worthy of a first team place, if not at Chelsea then at another club of a similar level. Rumours in January suggested that a move to America might have been on the cards for the England international, leaving many people bewildered as to how a player like Lampard can be allowed to travel across the Atlantic and play in the inferior MLS.
Chelsea as a club is continuously evolving. Managers and interim managers come and go, sometimes leaving the team in a state of disarray and really affecting results in all competitions.
Rafael Benitez’s appointment was much needed for Chelsea; to keep them in contention for a Champion’s League place, they needed an experienced manager who could steer the team through the season and get results. Strong rumours are suggesting a return of the ‘special one’ for next year.
José Mourinho saw Lampard as a great player, and used his skill effectively in his impressive span at Chelsea. The problem with Chelsea nowadays is the vast amount of strength they have in midfield.
The introduction of Oscar, Ramires, Mata and Hazard puts his position at risk, along with the already existing talent of Mikel. As fitness and speed drop as the ageing process sets in, is there room for Lampard in a future Chelsea team?
Even though his future is unclear, for next season at least we will be hearing his name ring around Stamford Bridge.
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