Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Frank Lampard to MLS?

Article by Anders Aarhus

Here come the Lampard rumors again.

What has long been speculated – Frank Lampard signing with the LA Galaxy – has once again gained traction thanks to an article by the UK tabloit the “Daily Star.”

The “Star” claims the longtime Chelsea man will join LA on a two-year deal during the January transfer window.

At 34, Lampard fits the bill of “aging superstar” MLS has a reputation for attracting, although recent years has seen less reliance on such players. Landing a well-known star is never a bad thing for the league, but there are some legitimate questions about his signing with the Galaxy.

It’s safe to assume Lampard will be a Designated Player considering his stature and current contract. Seeing as LA already has the maximum three DPs, one of the trio will have to go. Smart money is on Robbie Keane to be shown the door, but, judging by his recent interview, don’t be too shocked if it’s Landon Donovan who leaves the club. The DP who seems least likely to leave is actually David Beckham who at end of last season seemed a sure bet to move on. 
Regardless of who goes, the Galaxy will be left with something of a logjam in midfield. With Beckham likely to be there, he and Lampard will presumably take the central spots leaving Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas out in the cold. Although Sarvas has played on the wing this year, he’s best centrally and Juninho’s effectiveness comes from the sheer amount of ground he covers in midfield, an advantage that could be minimized in a wider role.

One option might be a formation shift to a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1 with Lampard underneath Keane (in a 4-4-1-1) or as the #10 (in a 4-2-3-1) with Donovan up front or cutting in from the wing. Assuming Keane leaves and Donovan sees out his current contract, a 4-2-3-1 seems most likely as it would allow free roles for Lampard and Donovan, while Beckham could sit deep and distribute with Juninho providing defensive cover.

The other interesting tidbit from the article:

[Lampard] still harbors the ambition to play in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

And he knows his best chance of that happening is if he is starting matches week-in and week-out.

So unless he re-establishes himself in Di Matteo’s first 11, the transfer window in January could be the time to end an 11-year career at Stamford Bridge.

One question of every aging superstar who decides to finish out his career in MLS is whether they are truly committed to the league and playing at a high level or simply seeking a final payday while enjoying the life of luxury in the States. The fact that Lampard wants to play in Brazil 2014 should address those concerns quite well. Even better, that he sees MLS as a high enough level of play to keep the attention of England manager Roy Hodgson and adequately prepare him for a World Cup is a testament to just how far the league has come.

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