Frank Lampard has revealed that he was released by Chelsea in 2014 to accommodate the arrival of Cesc Fabregas.
After 13 years of stellar service at Stamford Bridge – including being part of three Premier League title-winning squads and captaining the team to Champions League success in 2012 – the midfielder was allowed to leave on a free transfer and subsequently joined Manchester City.
That same summer saw then-manager Jose Mourinho swoop for Fabregas, a player who Lampard clashed with on several occasions during matches involving the Blues and London rivals Arsenal as well as European fixtures against Barcelona.
The pair almost came to blows during the 2007 League Cup final at the Millenium Stadium and the former England international has explained how his frosty relationship with the playmaker resulted in his departure.
“We never played together. They let me go to get Cesc in,” he told BT Sport. “Me and Cesc never really got on well on the pitch so they didn’t think we could share a dressing room.”
Now in his fourth season in West London after signing a five-year contract to seal a return to English football Fabregas has become something of a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge despite his ties to the Gunners due to his ability to create chances from deep and add quality to the team’s midfield play.
He recorded 18 assists to help the Blues win the league title in the 2014/15 campaign and then topped the charts for the same statistic across the entire squad last season even though he was used more of an impact sub as Antonio Conte often preferred the pairing of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic.
Lampard’s departure wasn’t the first time that a veteran midfielder has been moved on to make way for the Spaniard. His emergence at Arsenal saw Arsene Wenger decide to take the surprising decision to sell his captain, Patrick Vieira.
Yet while Chelsea have continued to enjoy success following the departure of their all-time top scorer, the Gunners have failed to win a Premier League title since the Frenchman left the club.
As for Lampard, he officially announced his retirement from the game earlier this year and has ventured into TV punditry whilst taking his coaching badges. He is expected to make his way into management in the future.