On Saturday, Frank Lampard equalled Thierry Henry's record of 175 Premier League goals with his sixth goal of the season for Manchester City. For a midfielder to reach such a tally is a fantastic testament to Lampard's ability; for Lampard to have reached the tally at the not so tender age of 36 speaks even greater volumes for his durability. Despite his age, Lampard looks no worse for wear than he did 10 years ago when his Chelsea career really took off. So then, just why did Chelsea let Lampard go?
Both are capable of playing as an attacking midfielder or in a deeper and preferred central midfield role. Finally, they are both frequent assisters, with Lampard being second on the Premier League all time list and Fabregas not far behind him, despite only being a Premier League regular for eight seasons, compared to Lampard's 19 years.
This last part is the most pertinent because with Lampard in the team last season, Chelsea struggled to break teams down. Whilst a fine assister, Lampard is not as debonair as Fabregas when it comes to passing. The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona man is far more precise with his passes than the City man, as evidenced by WhoScored to have a pass percentage of 88.3% compared to Lampard's 82.4% for Chelsea last season.
Fabregas is also far more involved in the build up of play. This season he has averaged 86.9 passes, whereas Lampard had under half that amount for Chelsea with an average 40.2.
Moreover, Lampard created on average 1.2 chances last season, a tally trumped by Fabregas who has created on average 3.2 chances.
For all their similarities, there are distinct differences: Fabregas is a true playmaker who not only plays the final ball but orchestrates the whole team to play to the beat of his drum. Lampard is someone who plays on the periphery of the game only to pop where there is space, predictable in the box.
With two out Chelsea's three strikers being poachers (Diego Costa and Loic Remy), the need for a goalscoring midfielder has decreased. What Chelsea do need is someone to knit together their game; Fabregas is in a select elite in world football at doing that.
Add in the fact Fabregas is 9 years Lampard's junior, there really was no space for the.
Yes, Lampard is still very capable of contributing to Chelsea on a productive and regular basis but his ambitions would not have allowed him to play second fiddle. Fabregas is instrumental to Chelsea; he can ill afford to be dropped when fit.
The same cannot be said for Oscar who despite having a stellar season so far, works on the edges of Chelsea's game. Lampard could easily have rotated with the Brazilian youngster, or indeed Mourinho could have removed Willian and shifted Oscar onto the right to include Lampard.
The problem with this move is that it forces players out of position all for the sake of accommodating one player. Oscar can play on the wing and Lampard can play as an attacking midfielder but when they have played in the makeshift positions in the past, it has had a noticeable drop in their performances. Simply put they are not totally at home.
Furthermore, the wages Lampard would have asked for would have belied his actual status in the Chelsea side. With Financial Fair Play looming over, Chelsea have decided to play ball and be more frugal with their spending. Lampard did not fit into this category therefore he was expendable.
That Lampard joined Man City is unfortunate because his performances have shown he certainly still has it. However, Lampard had ran down his contract with Chelsea so there was nothing they could do to influence proceedings. And in defence of the Blues, Lampard was giving off soundbites of leaving for America and not wanting to join another Premier League rival. In that sense Lampard duped us all, though I am sure a Fabregas inspired Chelsea don't give one iota.
*Statistics courtesy of WhoScored