Frank Lampard: Can Chelsea Afford to Let His Goals Leave on a Free Transfer?

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

Frank Lampard was Chelsea's match-winner in the Premier League clash against Everton to close out 2012—but the Blues midfielder still has no guarantees on his future from the club.

Having spent over a decade at Stamford Bridge as a reliable goalscoring threat from midfield, it seems surprising that Chelsea are willing to let Lampard go on a free transfer, even with him now being 34 years of age.

Chelsea went a goal down to Everton early on in their final game of 2012, and it took a brace from Lampard—who played the entire 90 minutes for only the fourth time this season—to turn the game around and win it for them.

The former West Ham United midfielder has not been in the team as often over the past 18 months as he was previously, but remains a great option for Chelsea to have in their squad.

Given that against Everton, for example, the likes of Eden Hazard failed to be at their scintillating best and that few of the other attacking players looked like scoring a goal on the day, is the regular strike-rate of Lampard something that Chelsea can afford to give up so easily?

Both of Lampard's goals at Goodison Park displayed one of his most natural strengths, that which few other players possess in the same role—that of finding space in the penalty area to increase his chances of getting a clean strike at goal.

He can't perhaps cover the same amount of ground twice a week that he could five years ago, but Lampard remains a predatory midfielder who can make telling runs from deep into the box.

Chelsea might not require him as a starter every match this or next season, with the likes of Ramires and David Luiz providing an intriguing possible partnership, but Lampard brings a very different dimension to the attacking side of midfield.

It is almost certain that there will be games that the Blues need a late goal to rescue points; at that point, if the trickery and creative threat of the likes of Juan Mata and Oscar hasn't worked, then Lampard provides an altogether more reliable and direct method of eking out a goal—get himself into good areas, and shoot quickly.

He's only 10 goals away from being Chelsea's all-time top goalscorer; loss of mobility and pace or not, Lampard could add another six next season, which could make the difference of half-a-dozen points.

And when you're dealing in the differences between making the top four and not, or winning the title or not, surely the cost of another year on Lampard's contract would be more than recouped?