Frank Lampard could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge.
Reports suggest the 34-year-old midfielder has agreed to join Chinese side Guizhou at the end of this season (via The Daily Mail).
At this stage, it's best to take these rumours with a pinch of salt. Lampard is a long way from moving to Asia and is just as likely to accept a 12-month extension to his Chelsea contract.
The thought of Lampard calling time on his Premier League career does raise some interesting questions. With Roberto Di Matteo's "Holy Trinity" leading Chelsea's charge for silverware, should the veteran move on at the end of the year?
Lampard's current injury has seen him fall away from the limelight. A new generation of players are making headlines at the club—none more so than Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar.
This trio has been at the centre of Chelsea's early season success. The team has exchanged workmanlike efficiency for a fashionable style and flair.
Chelsea's changing of the guard has also seen the club soften the influence of its aging figures.
Michael Essien is enjoying a loan spell at Real Madrid. Paulo Ferreira and Florent Malouda are being frozen out of first team proceedings. Of course, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka currently reside in China.
Should Lampard join them?
While I feel Chelsea's new image will prove successful, it would be foolish to disregard Lampard's contribution just yet.
It's easy to forget the former West Ham player was in sparkling form before suffering his current injury. Lampard has made four starts and three substitute appearances in the Premier League this season. Limited time on the pitch has provided three goals so far.
Di Matteo isn't afraid to use key players extensively.
Mata, Hazard and Oscar all appeared in the Capital One Cup clash against Manchester United. Although the European Champions eventually claimed victory against a youthful Red Devils outfit, the next result amounted to a disappointing Premier League draw away at Swansea.
Pablo Hernandez's late equaliser pushed Di Matteo's side down into second place. A combination of tiredness and inexperience saw possession surrendered easily. This negligence contributed to the vital goal.
John Terry wasn't on the pitch to scream words of encouragement, Drogba wasn't ready to gobble up a vital chance, and Lampard couldn't manipulate the result with a clever pass.
Chelsea's season is going to be a tough one.
The club should be challenging for honours on domestic and European fronts. Having Lampard in the squad is a vital boost for the trophy assault.
While new players have settled in brilliantly, they will need support over the next two years. When poor form strikes and confidence dips, it's someone of Lampard's experience that kickstarts a reaction.
Would Manchester United sell stalwarts Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes across the globe? Not a chance. Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to keep his older players has proven successful. Even if they don't take part in too many games, the legends are ready to influence younger colleagues.
Roberto Di Matteo should view Frank Lampard's presence along these lines. The midfielder has plenty left to offer Chelsea in a time of transition. A move to China would be a disappointing conclusion to a marquee career—one that deserves to finish at the highest level.
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