The Sun have caused considerable controversy amongst Chelsea fans today by running an article stating that Frank Lampard has been told to "find [him]self a new club" as the club have decided not to renew his contract. The Sun is notorious for running less-than-perfect stories with poor sources, so let's have a look at this one, and whether Chelsea will have said anything of the sort to our vice-captain.
If you've been on Twitter, Facebook, or just generally not on the moon today, you'll have read this article in The Sun. There's a fair chance you'll have been upset by it too. That's okay, because it's written expressly to upset Chelsea fans, and attract eyeballs. It's pretty typical of the English media, and hopefully the articles on this site have helped you to learn to see through their tricks. If they haven't, or you're new, it's totally understandable. I'm going to be looking at the reasons I think it's improbable that Chelsea have actually told Frank Lampard that he can find another club, at least in the tone implied in the article. I can hear you asking me how I can be so confident there's nothing new here.
The truth is, I can't be certain, but neither can anybody. It's unlikely, however, that the club has been quite this crass, despite a history of poor relations with outgoing players. The fact is, Frank Lampard will be free to discuss a free transfer and a pre-contract with an overseas club in January irrespective of anything Chelsea have to say about the matter. As the club are unlikely to to suddenly agree on a new deal in the next few days, there's a pretty good chance that Lampard wouldn't actually need to be told he can find a new club. Which brings me to my next point.
Why would anyone be surprised that we've decided not to re-sign Lampard? He's 34, and on big wages. The fact that Didier Drogba now plays in China should be all the proof any Chelsea fan needs to reach the conclusion that Chelsea are unlikely to renew his contract. We all love Frank, of course we do, and we all want him to stay, but in an FFP world, that's probably not possible. At 34, he's simply not likely to bring value for the money we'd have to commit at this point. If we didn't have major holes which needed filling, we might be able to afford it, but if it gets in the way of doing necessary business it's not a good idea. Given the plentiful public conversation about the economics of giving him a new contract over the past six months, I'm sure Frank understands the situation, and has discussed it with the club.
We know the reality of the situation, but where has this article come from? There are quotes within, but they're from the infamous, "Stamford Bridge insider," which is usually code for "these are just made up." The mysterious insider claims Frank is upset due to not being offered a new contract by the club he loves, and that he was told this prior to his 500th appearance against Aston Villa. While that sounds awful, there's nothing to suggest this is a Carlo Ancelotti situation, where the hammer was dropped in the tunnel.
When you take the available facts, it's not hard to see how they could be made to fit the current narrative that the Chelsea board are untrustworthy. The truth is, Frank Lampard is unlikely to be a Chelsea player next season, and he'll be able to discuss terms with other clubs very soon due to his contract status, but that's not enough to justify the idea that the club would treat a club legend with so little tact, and neither are the weak, anonymous quotes. Frankly, Lampard and the club are a long way apart, unlikely to find common ground, and neither are likely to be happy about it. Lazy articles that are little more than a match to a highly-volatile Chelsea fandom aren't helpful either.
We went through this last season, as Didier Drogba took his final bow for the Blues. Nothing has changed staff-wise since June, and Drogba hasn't shown any sign of lasting hatred towards the club since his departure. If the club were really in the business of being callous in their treatment of our departing legends, we'd have surely seen it by now. Of course, Chelsea hasn't been the greatest to players who wanted out, famously sending several to "Siberia," but in the most similar case, there's no evidence of it, so stop relying on "unnamed insiders" in an attempt to get people worked up, Mr. The Sun.