Still plugging away: Lampard hits ‘magic’ 200

His landmark 200th goal on Saturday against West Ham was a such a proud moment for the seasoned midfielder. ‘Super Frank’ has been, statistically, the most successful midfielder of the last decade and perhaps even in Premier League history and has been the forefront of the English midfield alongside Steven Gerrard. At the latter stages of a player’s career, you can expect an old guard’s achievements to be etched away into the history books, or they begin to wither away into the lower leagues and they become an experienced head amongst the amateurs. However, at the age of 34, Frank continues to defy the odds for his beloved Chelsea and looks to be on course to be their next record holder as top goalscorer and imprint his name into Chelsea folklore. Its an accolade that the majority of football fans and pundits hope he achieves and it makes it all the more impressive the he did it from the heart of midfield.

In 2001, many were shocked at how Chelsea shelled out £11 million for the West Ham youngster, a price tag described as too much. However, 11 years later, 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 Community Shields and a Champions League crown along with being the only player in Premier League history to score 10 goals in 10 consecutive seasons and he continues to perform amongst the best. He has proved to be one of the most successful players in the club’s history, a Chelsea legend. No matter what the outcome in the next transfer window, he will always be remembered and idolised by the Chelsea faithful.

But this begs the question, why let go the most successful Premier League player of the last decade? In Chelsea’s books it boils down to one thing… his age. At 34, some of the Chelsea staff and more powerful members of the club (e.g. Roman Abromovich) feel his time of servitude has been fulfilled and he has very little left to offer. Even if that were the case, why feel the need to offload them? Chelsea clearly have the financial prowess to pay for his weekly wage and there would be nothing stopping the club from breeding the young talent through to the first team such Oscar and Romelu Lukaku once he has returned from his loan spell. He could act as a figurehead player amongst the squad, a player that the youth can look up to and a reliable player to call upon.

If you look at Manchester United, they have the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to act as role models to the younger players of the squad. And look at the success they have achieved since the inception of the Premier League. It is unparalleled to any other team in the top division and it is success Chelsea can only hope to emulate. Perhaps with the help of some old guards such as Lampard, they can replicate that winning formula at Stamford Bridge. Both John Terry and Ashley Cole are into there 30’s now and are heading towards the latter stages of their career so there is no reason why they can’t act as role models to the younger players (apart from how they are talked about in the media).

That argument aside, it would be detrimental to let the goalscoring midfielder go this summer. And this is for a multitude of reasons. One of them being he is one of the most genuine and professional footballers I’ve seen on the pitch in Premier League history. He conducts in a manner that upholds his status and beyond. Never once have you seen his face on the front page of a newspaper because he has been thrown into the middle of a sex scandal with another team mate or a secret love affair with some tottie from big brother or something along those lines. Both on and off the football pitch, he has always worked perilously hard for his team and never once stepped out of line. I think for a player of his status and his importance to a team has not led him off the rails into a life of sex scandals and inappropriate behaviour is a remarkable achievement. The amount of times he has been on the back pages of newspapers and all for the right reasons is a thing of joy for both Chelsea and England fans.

Another reason is purely because of how effective he is when he is playing in the side. Chelsea win a higher percentage of games when he is in the starting 11 rather than when he is sat on the bench. The brilliant thing about that is that there is no ambiguity to that. Its stone hard fact that Chelsea play better when he is in the side. It must act as a reassurance policy to the other players when he is in the starting 11. Players such as Ramires, Hazard and Mata, who all play pivotal roles of their own in the heart of the Chelsea midfield, must be relieved to see his name of the team sheet. At the start of the season, he was only being used for a substitutes role coming on for 15-20 minutes a game, sometimes he wouldn’t see any game action at all. The fact that the Chelsea coaching staff and a combination of Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez have tried to whither him away into the background is an insult to everything he has done for the club since he signed 11 years ago.

As you can imagine, Franky Lamps didn’t quite give up his Chelsea place without a fight. He is currently Chelsea’s top scorer in the Premier League with 12 goals and has tallied 17 goals altogether, some of them being of vital importance to The Blues’ Champions League push. He plays a slightly different role for Chelsea now sitting in front of the back four, pushing onto the heart of the midfield. Despite the fact that he has dropped slightly deeper for Chelsea, it is clear he still hasn’t lost his goalscoring touch. He still has the ability and the fitness to make them late runs into the box he is so well known for and he still has a devastating long range shot that seem unstoppable at times.

Talk in January suggested that the part-time England vice captain was on his way to the MLS to play for LA Galaxy. To possibly become the next big name Premier League ambassador much like his former England team-mate, David Beckham. Clearly, big money contracts and lucrative sponsorship deals are not that important to his Lampard. His heart is set on playing for Chelsea. However, the fact remains that Chelsea still haven’t renewed his contract, and are leaving it frighteningly late as the end of the season is coming up thick and fast. Teams are now able to offer the Chelsea midfielder a contract if they see the next step of his future at their club. This could be a decision that the Blues’ may massively regret. I think the majority of people, including Lampard himself saw him spending the rest of his career at Stamford Bridge. So it would be a massive blow to the Chelsea and it would be a massive blow to the Premier League if he made his way across the pond.

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