Frank Lampard is on the verge of signing for the Melbourne City in the forthcoming A-League season, according to reports. What a staggering coup that would be.
The former Chelsea stalwart is expected to sign a temporary deal, similar to the deal that will bring Spanish legend David Villa to the newly rebranded Melbourne City. The temporary nature of the acquisition will mean like Villa, Lampard will also be moving to the MLS next year to play for the newly formed New York City.
If the imminent transfer becomes official, Lampard will become the third major signing for Melbourne City in as many months, joining former Chelsea teammate Damien Duff and former Atletico Madrid forward Villa.
So with the impending move gathering momentum, what potential influence would a player of Lampard’s quality have on Australian football?
Well for the A-League to secure such a figurehead in world football, credit must first go to our English counterparts for making a deal appear beyond reality, and actually materialise. If you said five years’ ago that the A-League would have footballers such as Villa, Alessandro Del Piero and potentially Lampard grace the shores of Australia you were probably dreaming, and such an idea could only occur in a virtual world – the game FIFA comes to mind.
However, these fantasies are becoming a reality, no longer are the signings confined to the virtual world of FIFA, and we can possibly expect more of the same in the future. While these big signings are tremendous for the game, they have only transpired due to the significant affluence of Sheikh Mansour – something we must be thankful for.
Not too many players are synonymous with the club that they have played for, but Lampard is an obvious exception. A household name in England for over a decade, it is this prominence that will bring thousands of fans through the ticket turnstiles during the season, to see one of football’s immortals. Lampard is already renowned and endeared by Australians, attributed to the extensive media exposure and coverage of the English Premier League in Australia. That is why he will already be a success without even stepping on the field. Lampard is also a gentleman on the field, as he is off, he has done nothing to compromise his reputation, garnering respect from all opposition fans worldwide, particularly England.
There was considerable speculation surrounding the future of Lampard, after announcing he would be seeking new pastures at the end of the season with the Blues. It was a place where the English midfielder established himself as arguably the most consistent Premier League player for the best part of 13 years. Destiny is in the hands of the Englishman and with reports seeming extremely promising about a temporary move to Melbourne City it will only add fascination to what is easily the most highly-anticipated A-League season yet.
Despite efforts in the past of A-League clubs attaining former greats, many have been largely futile. Former Brazil World Cup winner, Romario probably best epitomises this, scoring a measly once in four games at the age of 40 for Adelaide United. Lampard, who recently turned 36, will not have that problem. Despite his golden years behind him, the three-time Chelsea Player of the Year recipient, is still capable of running out games and in a less intense league compared to the physically demanding Premier League, it will be like a duck taking to water – minus the heat. Expect goals from the box-to-box midfielder too, who left Chelsea as their all-time top goalscorer for the club with 211 goals.
Barring the heat, a player of Lampard’s calibre will not only benefit the A-League short-term, but grow the game from a future perspective.
Australian football has not received the media publicity it deserves, in comparison to the likes of the AFL and NRL. However, with someone of Lampard’s prowess and professionalism he will certainly bring more exposure to a game that continues to grow in Australia.
Coupled with the Socceroos’ encouraging efforts in Brazil, it seems that is only the beginning of rapid growth for Australian football.
Onwards and upwards.