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Frank Lampard Hints at MLS Down the Road

May 28, 2010 – 11:45 AM
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Michael Cardillo

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One of the biggest fears when David Beckham signed his mega-million blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 that it would turn MLS into a retirement home for aging soccer stars looking for a final paycheck.

And even as the league has amended the so-called "Beckham Rule" allowing clubs to pay up to three designated players without counting toward the salary cap, the floodgates of thirty-somethings in cleats haven't exactly washed there way up on American shores.

Friday, however, in an interview with something called the Sabotage Times, Chelsea star and current England midfielder Frank Lampard hinted he too might follow Beckham and wind down his career in MLS.

When asked about Beckham's decision, the 31-year-old Lampard said the following:
"It's his decision, isn't it? When he went, I thought, maybe he's gone too early, but the more I thought about it, I thought, if that's what he wants to do, let him do it. I'd like to go and play in America when I'm 36 or 35 but you can't take away someone's right to go and play where they want."
Lampard has three years left on his current Chelsea deal and also said in the same interview that he wouldn't want to get into team management.

At first glance the prospects of a 35-year-old Lampard lumbering around an MLS midfield bring back the worst memories of Lothar Matthäus' 16 games with the Metrostars in 2000, when he treated the league about as seriously as a kid in rec soccer whose parents are forcing him to play.

Then again, Lampard has always been a committed professional. His 20 league goals this season were a big reason why Chelsea won the Premier League, edging out Manchester United.

The age of Lampard, too, would be a concern. Think about Guillermo Barros Schelotto, however, who's turned the Columbus Crew into one the best teams in MLS since he arrived from Boca Juniors in 2007. Even at the age of 37, Schelotto is still getting the job done in the midfield with the Crew unbeaten this season.

Mexican star Cuauhtémoc Blanco paced the Chicago Fire attack for three seasons while in his mid-30s, too. Even the much maligned Beckham was a very good player last season when he was fully healthy, helping the Galaxy reach the MLS Cup final.

And if you think back to the early days of the league, Colombian midfield maestro Carlos Valderrama was in his mid-30s and was still very effective.

Lampard isn't exactly that type of a creative player, but he's a midfielder with vision and the ability to crack shots from distance, something that always excites a crowd and looks good in the highlights. There would be some concern that by the time he reached MLS, Lampard could possibly have anywhere in the range of 800 to 900 games under his belt, not leaving much tread left on the tire.

Still, for whatever reason MLS seems to have suited plenty of star midfielders in their mid-to-late 30s.

That would leave the only question whether or not a club would want to shell out a couple million bucks to an older player who might not exactly be a marquee name to non-hardcore soccer fans. For everything he's done, Lampard isn't an icon on Madison Avenue like say, Red Bulls long-term target Thierry Henry.

Then again, Lampard was in this Pepsi spot for the upcoming World Cup, so you be the judge.


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