FOX Soccer Exclusive
Lampard will not rule out MLS move
NEW YORK, NY
Chelsea star Frank Lampard entered Yankee Stadium with a handful of second half substitutions during Sunday’s friendly against Paris Saint-Germain almost incognito. When the stadium’s PA announcer uttered his name, it became clear who most fans clad in royal blue were there to see.
It’s not the first time Lampard has come on the field to an ovation in the United States, and it could become a regular scene if rumors of a Lampard move to Major League Soccer land true. Lampard had been linked to a move to the Los Angeles Galaxy this summer, but looks destined to play out the final year of his contract.
When asked on Sunday whether he was considering a move to MLS, Lampard insisted that nothing was in the works quite yet, but admitted that he couldn’t rule out the possibility of one day joining David Beckham as the next England star to make the jump across the pond.
“I have another year in my contract with Chelsea. We’ve got a big season, we’ve got the (European Super Cup) and we’ve got the World Club Championship in December,” Lampard said. “Then it’s up to Chelsea. If they want to speak with me about my future, then I’ll speak to them.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out at the moment.”
Lampard made it clear that playing in the United States was becoming an increasingly attractive option, and sounded like a player who would consider playing here.
“First and foremost, the league has improved so much,” Lampard said. “People like David Beckham and Thierry Henry have brought a big name to it, and they’re helping the league develop.
“It’s just a great country to come to,” Lampard added. “I know personally that we’re so welcomed when we come here. The support is great, the people are so very nice. We love coming here.
“The quality of football is higher, and the life here is fantastic, so I think you’ll see more players coming here.”
Lampard helped Chelsea overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit to post a 1-1 draw against Paris St. Germain on Sunday night in the latest stop in the Blues’ tour of North America. The match was seen as a clash of the big-spending clubs that drew questions about whether astronomical spending being done by clubs like PSG was good for the game.
Lampard said: “I don’t think [clubs} should be upset because I think it’s taken the game to good levels. PSG would never have been able to maybe fight on a European and world scale, but now they have the possibility.
“You’re upping the level, you’re upping the competition and that can only be good for football.”
Chelsea was the first wave of teams to ride the deep pockets of a new owner to higher levels of success. Recently, Chelsea reached the pinnacle by winning the UEFA Champions League in May. That victory helped propel the team into more spending, starting with the acquisition of Belgian star Eden Hazard, and anticipated signing of Brazilian sensation Oscar.
The team’s new acquisitions have Chelsea looking to repeat as European champions, but Lampard is careful to remind people just how tough that will be.
“We will try our best to do it, and of course it’s a possibility, but every year the other teams get stronger,” Lampard added. “Barcelona will be strong again. Real Madrid are strong. The Italian teams are strong. Every year it’s very tough.
“It’s hard to say at this point, but I think at the moment we’re just enjoying being champions of Europe and we’ll see if we can do it again.”
Chelsea heads to Philadelphia to play in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, a rematch of the 2006 All-Star game won by MLS. Lampard is one of the few remaining Chelsea players who took part in that match and expects another tough outing against a squad that will feature Beckham and Henry.
“I remember it being a very tough game, for a lot of reasons,” Lampard said of the 2006 meeting. “The MLS is stronger now and the top players are at a higher level than they would have been when we played them before.
“Also, they’re in mid-season. They’re fit, and it’s a great chance for them to display their skills against the European champions.”
Lampard could find himself on the other end of a similar match one day, given his affinity for the United States. The fact is he would be a dream addition to the Major League Soccer stable of talent. As he embarks on what could be the final season of his successful Chelsea career, Lampard sounds like he has found at least one potential destination for his life after Chelsea.
“When you come this far away to a country that’s not supposed to be so into soccer, and you see the support that’s growing every year, it’s nice to see.”
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.