There are certain players who seem are permanently attached to the teams they play for. Derek Jeter with the New York Yankees. Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tom Brady with the New England Patriots.
But given developments of late, it seems inevitable that Lampard's time with the Blues is coming to an end, and frankly, it probably should.
And that's why in January it would probably be best for him and his long-time club to part ways.
It all started when new manager Rafa Benitez noted he didn't think Lampard and Ashley Cole would be offered new contracts this summer (via Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror):
I think they will leave in the summer. I don't have all the information, but I think that's the case at the moment.
Sometimes you’re in a difficult position as a manager because there’s too much to decide on, so it’s better to have a technical director.
If they say this or that, I will analyse and give my idea—if I have one. We have to wait and see.
Well then. That's a lot of experience at the club Benitez seems fine with dismissing. And Lampard didn't wait very long to respond (via Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror):
Talks about one-year extension, two-year extension don't exist—because at the minute nothing has been said, and as far as I know, nothing is planned.
The ball is in Chelsea's court.
I'm a Chelsea player, as simple as that. I've had a great, great time here. But maybe things don't last forever. Although I want it to last forever, you have to be big enough to know what it is.
So why draw this out?
It's clear enough Benitez wants to tactically move in a direction that doesn't include Lampard and Cole, clearing the way for the younger talents on the squad. And it's clear that Lampard has accepted the inevitability of leaving Chelsea and wants to be in a place where he has a shot to earn significant minutes.
So why not sell Lampard to a team for which he can regularly play in the final years of his career? Why not clear room to give the younger talents the opportunity to prove their worth or bring in a midfielder or two to better fit Benitez's style?
I know how much Lampard means to Chelsea fans, and if there is a way both he and Chelsea can be happy with his place on the club, he obviously should stay.
I just don't see it happening at this point.
And honestly, Lampard is not the player he once was. Not even close. Veterans like him, Cole, John Terry and Didier Drogba were huge contributors to the Champions League-winning side last year, sure, but it's obvious enough that Lampard isn't the force he once was in the midfield.
At some point, his role on the Blues is going to disappear. That wouldn't happen as fast at a less-talented club, with which Lampard could play out the string, not watch it unravel from the bench.
It may seem abrupt, but in January Lampard should move on to another club.
He'll always be a Chelsea man, even if he doesn't finish his career as one.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets know all good things must come to an end.