Frank Lampard has lifted the lid on some of the finer details surrounding his summer departure from Chelsea, insisting that had he been offered a new deal with the club, he would have stayed.
After spending 13 years with the Blues, the 36-year-old cut ties with Chelsea at the end of the 2013-14 campaign. Sky Sports published quotes from the midfielder's recent interview with The Sun (subscription required):
It's an intriguing revelation from the man who was once seen as the face of the club. Having propelled Chelsea to major domestic and European glory over the past decade, and broken Chelsea's all-time scoring record, Lampard admits he was forced out the exit door.
As a result, he opted for a move to New York City FC, leading to a surprise loan at Manchester City.
Lampard had continued to show glimpses of his genius last term, scoring six goals and making three Premier League assists, per Transfermarkt.
However, Chelsea evidently thought a long-term approach was the more pragmatic one, investing in £30 million Cesc Fabregas as his apparent successor.
Despite the seemingly imperfect nature of how things ended between the two parties, Lampard went on to tell The Sun that there's no bad blood with the club or manager Jose Mourinho, per Sky Sports:
Jose was brilliant about it. I didn’t walk out with any bad feelings towards him or the club. I knew things were coming to a head but I’m realistic and, in football, I move on quite quickly. I also felt like I didn’t want to be a player who faded away – with that being the last memory people had of me.
Some Blues fans were shocked and indeed almost offended to hear that Lampard would return to the Premier League this season with title rivals City, but these quotes would give the veteran a defence in light of recent decisions.
The ex-England international also commented on the theory that player power existed at Stamford Bridge, led by the likes of Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole.
Of the last nine club managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho are the only helmsmen to have lasted 50 competitive matches or more in the position. Lampard rejects any notion of player influence on those sackings, per The Sun (h/t ESPN):
AVB (Andre Villas-Boas) had played his cards and it hadn't worked. I don't know if he was too young or whether it had come too early for him. One thing I will address is that a lot of people said when he and Phil Scolari and some of the other managers left it was all down to player power at Chelsea.
That's a load of crap. I'm being completely honest. Okay, AVB and I were not very close but I don't need to be close to my manager - but I am definitely not the type to act up. No one at the club was. Even Ash [Cole], who I know wasn't happy not playing week-in week-out, would never have run off and said, 'Please sack the manager, we've had enough of him'. That's plain ridiculous. We are professionals.
Can you imagine what Roman Abramovich would've said to him? 'I pay your wages, I make the decisions, now f*** off and play.' It just didn't work with AVB. He then went on to Tottenham and had another experience which was negative. Now he's apparently doing pretty well at Zenit so good luck to him. We all learn.
Clearly still of the impression that he can cut it at the top, Lampard is on a collision course with his former outfit, with Manuel Pellegrini's side playing host to Mourinho's men on Sept. 21.
Despite previous concerns over facing his old club, Lampard said he'll have no qualms in lacing up against Chelsea, stating: "I don't see it as a slight on anyone if I take part."
It's been a roller-coaster 12 months for Lampard, coming to grips with the idea of leaving the club with whom he held such deep ties, only to eventually return as a potential opponent.
His claims would therefore suggest that as far as Chelsea are concerned, the decision not to renew his deal was merely business, with no sentiment accounted for.
However, those terms also work in the opposite direction, and should Lampard feature against the Blues later this month and aid in any Chelsea defeat, he'll have no reason to feel remorse.
After all, it's just business.