While Roman Abramovich has never shied away from swapping managers or signing new talent at Chelsea, there have been a few players who have had long tenures at Stamford Bridge. But now those players appear to be leaving, and the Blues are making a wise move by continuing a transition into a new era.
Rafa Benitez—Chelsea’s current caretaker manager—was asked if Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard’s future lied away from the London club, and he said, “I think so, that is the case at the moment,” via The Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton.
Lampard has been with the Blues since 2001, while Cole moved from Arsenal in 2006. The two players have been fixtures in the team’s lineup over the past several years, but they do not fit in the team’s long-term plans.
A youth movement is currently underway at Stamford Bridge. Players such as Oscar and Eden Hazard—who only recently became old enough to buy a drink in the United States—have established themselves as important players in the squad this season. These players and 24-year-old Juan Mata have combined for 14 goals and 15 assists in all competitions this season.
Veterans such as Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa have been shown the door in recent years to make room for these young players, and this is right course of action for the team.
The old guard won the Premier League last in 2009 and certainly played an important role in the team’s incredible run to the Champions League title this past season. But Abramovich is interested in sustained success.
The young midfielders are now the core that the Blues are building around, and signing aging veterans to new contracts is not the best way to continue this team’s progress.
Lampard and Cole certainly have a few productive years left. Cole is still playing at a high level, while Lampard has been effective when healthy in a holding midfielder role. But holding onto these players takes time away from the players who will act as the star midfielders' supporting cast down the road.
Chelsea has shown recently that they are committed to reforming their roster. With several new attacking talents showing plenty of promise this season, the road forward is clear.
The Blues must continue to add young talent while parting ways with players in their 30s. Letting Lampard and Cole leave is the right move for Chelsea’s future.