Lampard to leave Chelsea, but a summer exit makes sense
The midfielder scored his 193rd Chelsea goal on Saturday, but he has to go some time
FRANK LAMPARD'S Chelsea career will come to an end this season after it emerged that Blues owner Roman Abramovich will not offer the long-serving midfielder another contract when his current deal expires in the summer.
Lampard's agent, Steve Kutner, made the announcement on Sunday, and revealed that the player was informed of his fate last year. "Chelsea executives told Frank in Japan during the Club World Cup, then again reconfirmed with me... that in no circumstances will he be offered a new contract to stay at the club after the end of this season," he said. "Nothing since has changed in any respect. Frank has had to accept that and just wants to carry on playing football for Chelsea so as to finish the season as successfully as possible for the club that he loves."
Lampard joined Chelsea from West Ham in 2001 for £11m and on Saturday moved level with Kerry Dixon in second place on the club's all-time scoring list when he netted his 193rd goal for the Blues.
The England player is a legend at Stamford Bridge and the news "will come as a blow to the club's supporters who have made clear their desire to see the midfielder remain in west London," reports The Guardian. "Lampard has also made no secret of his desire to stay at Chelsea."
With no new deal on the table and his contract now entering its final stages Lampard is free to talk to other clubs over a summer move. The Daily Mail says Lampard will stick with the Blues until the end of the current campaign. It claims that both Manchester United and Arsenal are keen on signing the midfielder, but suggests that a move to LA Galaxy could be on the cards.
The Times reports that the player is hoping to bring his Blues career to an "uplifting conclusion" in May.
Lampard's departure will hardly improve the reputation of owner Roman Abramovich among the fans. "Abramovich has endured a fierce backlash from Chelsea supporters over both his treatment of Lampard and his appointment of Rafael Benitez as interim manager," reports the Daily Telegraph. "And the club are keen to reassure fans that their long-serving midfielder has been spoken to in the proper manner."
But Chelsea's decision does make some sense, says Sam Wallace of The Independent. "He will be 35 in June and... this summer, with the natural break in his contract, is as good a time as any for the club to go in a new direction.
"Chelsea have to hand the baton on to a new generation at some point, and they have invested heavily in those players."
He adds that Lampard, who earns £150,000 a week, is a drain on resources at Stamford Bridge despite all his qualities. "The club cannot keep adding to their wage bill if they are seriously to comply with Uefa financial fair play." ·