The phrase 'best ever midfielder' is one that is thrown around far too easily in these modern times. Garrincha and Socrates, both Brazilian midfield maestros in the 20th century, were simply superb. Nowadays, the pundits in the game tend to refer to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta when you dare to mention the 'world's best'.
But Frank Lampard must be wondering what he must do to fit into that category. Win the Champions League? Be on the verge of reaching 100 caps for your country? Become your club's top all-time scorer despite being a midfielder?
The more you think about it, the more you realize just how underrated Lampard is in the world of football.
Obviously, as an Englishman, Lampard is fully recognized for his achievements in his home country. A true professional who is the first out on the training pitch and last one back in, Lampard is one of those players who will earn every single penny of his astronomical wages.
His total of 197 goals for Chelsea is simply a phenomenal record, and one that is likely never to be repeated.
However, Lampard, who turns 35 this year, is a very intelligent man, and has for a long time been aware of the fact that his career at Chelsea is coming to an end. With just three months left on his current deal which he signed back in 2009, the club have decided not to offer him a new deal.
For whatever reason, it seems Roman Abramovich is happy enough to see the veteran midfielder leave for nothing after 12 years of loyal service following his £11 million move from West Ham back in 2001. But is the ruthless Russian owner making the right decision?
Basing the decision on recent form, you would think Abramovich is clearly insane. 10 goals in his last 13 Premier League games shows just how important Lampard is to the West London club. Rafa Benitez has previously suggested that if the decision were up to him, he would sign him up. (Goal.com)
The reality, or tragedy if you will, of this situation is that it is not his decision.
Even before Benitez came into power at Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo's record with Lampard in the side was impressive, with six wins through the first seven games of the season. However, when he was sidelined through injury for two months, Chelsea's form dipped at an alarming rate, ensuring Di Matteo was sacked.
Surely it can't just be a coincidence?
Lampard has shown great leadership and professionalism when other players are perhaps not; under Andre Villas-Boas he was perhaps unfortunate to be left out of the side, only to be brought back during Chelsea's stunning Champions League triumph, playing a key part in their success.
With Chelsea's focus now purely on securing a young team that will stay together for many years to come, it could see the Stamford Bridge legend-to-be squeezed out of the club. Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata have quickly settled into their roles at the club, and it signifies that a new era is beginning on Kings Road.
Either way, Lampard will never be short of admirers. LA Galaxy are said to be front runners to secure Lampard's signature after David Beckham's successful stint at the MLS outfit, although with the 2014 World Cup fast approaching, it would make more sense for the England international, capped 97 times, to stay in Europe.
For what it's worth, it's never been about the money for Frank Lampard. Reports even suggested he was willing to cut his wages by 50% to stay at Chelsea. (Sunday Times)
Nevertheless, it may be the right time for him to leave Chelsea, but one thing is for sure; their loss is another club's gain.
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