Monday, 2 July 2007

Saga Samba and Fat Frank

JJ here,
The word saga is used all-too often in football these days. The favourite usages relate to transfer sagas and new contract sagas. They’re both really the same thing considering a contract saga will, no doubt, clash with a transfer saga which in turn escalates the original contract saga to proportions that few saga watchers thought possible.

There are other sagas – the Tevez one(s), the takeovers, the odd managerial one to boot. There’s even a ‘new stadium saga’ every once in a while; in fact thinking about it, any situation that goes on for more than three days in football now seems to be saga-worthy. Except that is, for Frank Lampard.

Frank has, apparently, turned down his latest Chelsea contract – rumoured to put him on wages marginally above those of Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack – and is playing ‘hard ball’ as they say in ‘80s dramas. Fat Frank has been holding out now all season with his buy-out clause of £8 million said to be interesting clubs across Europe. His agent was quoted as saying that as a “marketing icon” Frank should be given the contract he deserves. To push things along Lampard has also made noises about possibly liking the idea of playing at Barcelona.

So why no saga? Well it’s because no one seems to waste their time thinking about this. That even goes for Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Real Madrid who have all apparently been offered Frank by his agent and who have all apparently turned him down.

The thought of losing a man who scored them 21 goals last season doesn’t even appear to be worrying Chelsea fans or the manager. For instance, there’s been no outpouring of goodwill ala United fans and Fergie when Roy Keane was deciding his future in 2000. Back then the Real Madrid board wanted to build a side around Keane (who was the same age as Lamps is now); he even had talks with Bayern Munich where they offered him wages approaching what Frank is after seven years on.

Keane didn’t claim to be a marketing icon, he didn’t go to the press and say how he ‘admired the football’ in Spain or elsewhere; he just weighed up his decision, was straight with everyone and stayed on with the club who had shown loyalty towards him in difficult times.

Lampard professes his adoration for Chelsea and they offer him £121,000 a week. A fair deal surely but he has turned it down. Though, unlike when Gerrard or Henry were stalling over new contracts the fans of Chelsea aren’t paranoid about losing an idol. In fact, they’d probably like to see how Ballack would do when unchained from clumsily hoovering up behind Lampard in midfield.
Jose Mourinho called Lampard the best in the world but has said nothing about the contract; maybe he’d like to see the best of Ballack too. The German offers a more versatile game than Lampard and should be given his chance.

Why would Barca or Real be interested in a midfielder who doesn’t even like to play in midfield? Lampard has said that he likes to have two others sitting in the middle to allow him to run on. In all honesty, how hard can this position be? He barely has to defend; he has all the time in world to run on to loose balls and his method of free kicks amounts to ‘run up then whack then hope’. Barca have such a crowded frontline at the moment that they hardly need this type of midfielder at all.

There’s rumours they will go for him if they can sell Deco but this is only another of Laporta’s ego buys; Deco’s life off the pitch apparently ‘leaves a lot to be desired’ as one top European football journalist puts it (details man, we need details!!). But no one has come in for Deco and plenty of other top European journalists have claimed that the Brazilian-born Portuguese international is going nowhere.

Lampard will, in all probability, sign the deal in front of him. Though his agent will try and put out the idea that in fact it’s Chelsea climbing down. The lack of desire for his services compared to when Ballack was on offer last year; or Gerrard the season before is notable though. Lampard is not the great player that many claim him to be.
Keane was the real deal, Lamps is a “marketing icon” – and not even a particularly good one once you take him out of a Chelsea shirt. Every top side in Europe knows the difference. Wake up fat boy, we all know you’ll sign. And that is why there’s no saga here.


Mark V said...

wouldn't it be great to have Lamps and Henry leave in the same summer?! what a world it would be, then next year, off with cashley and stevie g, excellent :)

tyduffy said...

What a bunch of douchebags. What leverage do Lampard and Terry think they have? They are too chicken shit to move to another club in England. No one in Europe wants them. They have no leverage. Why Chelsea are not calling their bluff and low-balling them I have no idea.

My favorite story of the summer so far has been McClaren having to beg the England fans to stop booing Fat Frank.