Chelsea fans have had enough of Rafa Benitez and while club supporters probably won’t mind seeing him leave after the season, they certainly won’t be as happy if the Blues let Frank Lampard leave.
According to a report from The Sun, Chelsea have denied any rumors of contract talks with Lampard. With his deal set to expire at the end of the season, his future is very much up in the air.
The 34-year-old midfielder is just four goals shy of taking over as the all-time leading goalscorer for the Blues. And while he isn’t in the form he once was, Lampard still has a lot to offer.
Lampard accepted a smaller, more defensive role with the club last season as his age as diminishing physical skills caught up with him. Instead of fading from the spotlight or bucking the change, he settled into his new role and has remained a strong foundation in the Blues’ midfield.
A staple in the club’s midfield since his transfer in 2001, Lampard has established himself as both a leader and fan favorite for Chelsea, which currently sits in fourth place in the Premier League tables. He plays with confidence and consistency, and no amount of youthful talent can replace that kind of leadership for future seasons.
Former Chelsea midfielder and assistant manager Ray Wilkins spent plenty of time around him in his year assisting at Stamford Bridge, and he recently urged the re-signing of Lampard for next season (as quoted by BBC Sport):
Frank has to stay. I can't see why this situation is happening. He has done more than a job for Chelsea this season and will continue to do so with his fitness level and enthusiasm for the game.
There’s no denying that Lampard can no longer play at the level he once did, but diminished production is expected of a player his age. If Lampard has a desire to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond this season, there’s little reason for Chelsea to turn him away.
Nothing has been said of what the midfielder will be looking for in a new contract, but it’s reasonable to assume he won’t be demanding top dollar or a long-term stay. Several Premier League teams will no doubt be interested in Lampard should he be a free agent this summer and letting him leave would prove to be a costly mistake.
Turning away a fan favorite and a player who has done a lot for his club is never easy, but it's sometimes necessary for the long-term success of a club. This isn't one of those cases and if Lampard wants to stay at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea brass should do everything it can to accommodate him.