It sparked the end of the 35-year-old’s 13-year relationship with the club, where he made a phenomenal impact—as Squawka Football revealed:
Though Lampard was in the winter of his career, he still managed to chip in with six league goals and three assists in the 2013/14 campaign for the Blues, per WhoScored.com, and at times his contribution was invaluable to the team.
272 - Only Alan Shearer (324) had been involved in more @PremierLeague goals (scored & assisted) than Frank Lampard. Delivery.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 2, 2014
His departure will leave a hole in both the hearts of fans and in the centre of Chelsea’s midfield, though with the club looking to spend big to bring silverware to Stamford Bridge in the upcoming campaign, Lampard’s replacement may be on the way very shortly.
Here, we take a look at two big-money midfielders linked to a move to West London and assess how they could fill the boots of the iconic Lampard.
Koke (Atletico Madrid)
A cornerstone of Atletico Madrid’s La Liga success last season, Koke proved himself game after game in the heart of midfield for Atletico and could be on Jose Mourinho’s radar this summer.
Sky Sports revealed that Chelsea are looking into signing the 22-year-old from the Spanish champions, though Barcelona are providing opposition for the star’s signature.
Koke’s dynamic ability in the middle of midfield makes him one of the hottest properties in the world game, with his passing range rivalling that of Lampard in his pomp.
Per WhoScored.com, the Atletico star helped himself to 13 La Liga assists last season, showing an instinctive touch in front of goal, too, with six goals.
Koke’s ability to adapt to any position across the midfield would be perfect for Mourinho’s system, though he recently said that his allegiances lie with Atletico during an interview with Marca, as Sky Sports’ report revealed:
Barcelona is one of the best teams in the world and that they are interested in you means that you must be doing something right. That is very nice for a footballer. In any case, I only think about keeping working. I want to stay here and everyone knows it.
The club have certainly done everything in their power to keep Koke in red and white next season, agreeing a deal with him in January that extended his contract to 2018. But for Chelsea that simply means digging a little deeper in their bottomless pockets.
'ANOTHER ONE SLIPS AWAY' - Manchester United target Koke signs a new contract at Atletico Madrid that will tie him to the club until 2018.— Eurosport Transfers (@eurosportmoves) January 19, 2014
With David Luiz’s potential big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain bringing in a few zeros, Chelsea can afford to splash out to get the player they need to line up alongside Nemanja Matic.
Koke would undoubtedly prove a Premier League hit, as would the next central midfield suitor potentially coming back to the English top flight.
With Barcelona indicating that Cesc Fabregas is no longer part of their plans at the Nou Camp, per Sky Sports, Chelsea are reportedly taking steps to secure the Spaniard’s services for next season.
According to Matt Law of The Telegraph, the Blues will trigger the 27-year-old’s £30 million release clause to lure him back to London and replace Lampard in midfield.
During his eight years with Arsenal in the Premier League, Fabregas’ brilliance made him one of the stars of English football, warranting his £35 million move to Barcelona in 2011.
The midfielder faced off with Lampard several times, though his incisive passing style and intelligent play were rarely enough to win personal battles against the Englishman.
However, he has improved as a player since arriving at the Nou Camp, particularly over the last two campaigns—as OptaJoe revealed:
24 - Cesc Fabregas has the most goal assists in La Liga over the last two seasons. Available.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 31, 2014
Like Koke, Fabregas is another player that can operate in both deeper and advanced roles in midfield; though with his potential future midfield partner, Matic’s defensive capabilities, Fabregas will likely be deployed as a creative, attacking player in blue.
At 27, Fabregas is in the form of his life, though with Barcelona’s talented midfield keeping him from playing a starring role, moving on is the sensible option for the Spaniard.
If Chelsea do manage to secure the services of either Fabregas or Koke, they’d be gaining a midfielder that can replace Lampard for the long term, rather than an impulse, one-season purchase.
Mourinho will be determined to add to his squad next season as the quest for a trophy on his second coming goes on, and Law reports that Paul Pogba and Tottenham Hotspur’s Paulinho may also be on his wish list.
Whichever midfielder comes in at Stamford Bridge will have a lot to live up to, though, with Lampard’s legacy set to last for generations.