Saturday, October 13, 2007
Frank Lampard: Midfielder in Madrid's Future?
There has been growing speculation in the Spanish newspapers recently (you could tell there was an international break) that Real Madrid may go out and get Chelsea's center midfielder Frank Lampard.
WHY IT WOULD MAKE SENSE: Lampard is clearly in the upper echelon of world midfield talent. His class and goal scoring ability have dominated the most competitive domestic league in the world, the Barclay's Premier League. He scored 23 goals last season, 20 the year before, and 23 the season before that. Those are insane numbers from the midfield, and they speak to his goal scoring prowess.
He also plays both sides of the ball, as he creates, scores, and tackles. He is complete.
Interestingly, on more than one occasion Madrid manager Bernd Schuster has said he would like an offensive minded, organizing midfielder to support the attack. Someone who can direct traffic and put the ball in the back of the net.
That midfield presence could be Frank Lampard, as he fits what Schuster wants perfectly, and better yet, he is not Cup-tied. He could star in the Champions League for Madrid. He is also turning 30 next June 20th, so he is not a permanent block for midfield talent such as Wesley Sneijder.
Another big plus of singing Lampard is that he could come cheap, in terms of a tranfer fee.
He could invoke Fifa's Article 17, which allows players to break a contract after a protected period ends. This is after three years if they signed when under the age of 28 (which Lampard did) or two years if they signed when 28 or over, regardless of how long their contract is. They have to pay compensation to do this, calculated using a formula based on wages and their original transfer fee, but it means they can effectively "buy out" their contract. (Thanks to the Independent Paper for this explanation)
In essence, Lampard can pay the remaining wages on his contract (8 million pounds before this 2007-2008 season began), and a pro rata sum towards the his original transfer cost. For Lampard, that pro rata sum is actually 0 because he signed his contract in 2001, and his 11 million pound transfer fee has already amortized.
He could earn his freedom for less than 8 million pounds, and seek out a new beginning in Madrid. It is no secret that Lampard was a big fan of the former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who left following a falling out with management.
WHY IT WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE: The Real Madrid midfield is already clogged up, with Sneijder, Guti (Guti.Haz...what is that?), Julio Baptista (who should be playing up front), Diarra, Robinho (see Baptista), Royston Drenthe, Arjen Robben, Gonzalo Higuain, Fernando Gago, and Javier Balboa.
Truth be told, one Frank Lampard would likely produce as many goals as all of these midfielders put together, and he would only take up one spot. Regardless, he would still be one more player who will require Schuster to balance out playing time for his players. This causes some serious problems, (see previous post entitled Top of the league...)
Lampard would also earn some very highly weekly wages, but it's not like Madrid is strapped for cash.
In the end, this move makes sense for the most part, which is exactly why it probably won't happen. This isn't a criticism against Madrid management or Chelsea management, it's just that deals that make sense tend to never happen.
FEARLESS PREDICTION: As much as I don't like saying it, the most likely scenario is that Madrid tell the world how much they value Lamps, via the mouth of Schuster. The January transfer window comes around, talks will go down to the wire, and nothing will get done.
For now, watch the video and dream of this player in the middle of Madrid's attack (and defense)...