Paul Parker

Lampard has big decision to make

Paul Parker

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Frank Lampard

Chelsea's transfer policy this summer has left Frank Lampard with some big decisions to make about his future.

Time is running out for Frank, who had a fine second half of the last season for his club and looked set to become a key player for England under Roy Hodgson before injury ruled him out of Euro 2012.

He has been a world-class player, and is still a very good midfielder at any level, but I'm not sure about his public statements that he intends to see out the final year of his contract before deciding what to do next.

I don't know if that would be the best move for Frank. If he still harbours international ambitions — which he says he does — he won't fulfil them by sitting on the bench at Chelsea, which is surely what's going to happen now they've signed a handful of brilliant young midfield playmakers.

Does he want to see out his Chelsea contract and take a well-paid semi-retirement in Major League Soccer, or does he want to maximise his career at the highest level, which I feel he can do for the next two years at least?

Frank has another World Cup in him but staying at Chelsea may well damage his chances of going to Brazil in two years, provided England qualify.

You never know with Chelsea though — despite bankrolling this glut of new signings, it seems Roman Abramovich is still pandering to the egos of senior players. Last season we saw Andre Villas-Boas try to freshen up the team and he paid the price with a dressing-room revolt and ultimately his sacking.

What happens if Di Matteo uses the new players and leaves the old guard on the bench? Will they cause problems behind the scenes again? Will Abramovich heed them and fire Di Matteo if results don't immediately go his way? What does Chelsea's owner even want? You can't bring in £100m worth of young talent and insist the coach somehow accommodates players the wrong side of 30.

You wonder if Chelsea are going the same way as Real Madrid in the Galactico era, when they sacked Vicente Del Bosque after he won the Champions League because he dared to finish runner-up in La Liga that season — despite having won it several times before.

You'd never see the well-run clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal or Barcelona behaving in such a knee-jerk manner; you don't even see it with Manchester City, who stayed patient and loyal to their man once they'd got him.

Roberto Mancini at least seems to have close to full control over his playing staff, his team selections and the players he's allowed to buy and sell — I would call the Carlos Tevez situation an anomaly and one down to the power of the Argentine's handlers and legal team as opposed to City undermining the manager. And that turned out okay in the end anyway.


Chelsea's return to big players in the transfer market must be frustrating for Manchester United. Paris Saint-Germain entering the big time was always going to cause problems when it came to signing big players as, once they'd got into the Champions League, they have money — and Paris — to offer players.

This summer had promised to be an important one for United, who knew they had to spend on big, creative stars if they were to build on what was a relatively disappointing season that saw them struggle through the middle.

United would have known that City would step back from the transfer market — they have a settled, excellent team with depth in every position, and are targeting UEFA's fair play rules, not to mention the need to trim the squad of fringe players that could disrupt harmony in the dressing room.

But as soon as their closest rivals closed their purse, Chelsea decided to flash the cash and that must be frustrating.

Obviously this comes in the light of United losing out to PSG for Lucas Moura. I'm sure plenty will be gloating about that, but going on what I have heard and read, people surrounding the player — his family, his handlers — were asking for extra money for the deal to go through.

United have been ripped off in the past and they're not going to let that happen again on principle; also, and rightly so, they have to regulate what they spend, and ensure that everything is above board. They don't have a sugar daddy with a bottomless pit of cash to spend like City, PSG or Chelsea, and they shouldn't have — it simply won't be allowed in the future.

But in order to stop themselves going backwards from last season they do need to spend big on a top creative player that can make things happen centrally. They just shouldn't get ripped off in doing so.

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