As of January 2023 Frank Lampard is the manager of Everton. How long will that be the case? Well, who knows with that club? What we do know, though, is that despite an ultimately unsuccessful spell as Chelsea manager between 2019 and 2021, Lampard remains a Chelsea legend.
In this article, we will take a look at how the man from Romford, who came through as a youth at West Ham before playing over 150 times for them, came to cement his status as an all-time great at the Blues. Most importantly, we will look at how it all began, answering the two titular questions of this piece – what year did “Lamps” join Chelsea and how much did he cost?
When Did Frank Lampard Sign for Chelsea?
Lampard joined the Blues from West Ham in June 2001, Chelsea beating other clubs, including Aston Villa and Leeds United, to his signature. He was 22 at the time and would turn 23 a few days later. It was Claudio Ranieri who brought him to the club and Lampard become the Italian manager’s first English signing at Stamford Bridge.
Colin Hutchinson, the chief executive at the time, said “We have been bringing the age down in the squad for the last year and people may think he is older because he’s been around a bit but Frank is only 22.” The man himself said that it was the chance to play European football that played a key role in his decision to pick the Pensioners over other clubs that were vying to buy him. “Lamps” commented at the time:
I think I can take my game on from here and win a lot of medals with the club. Hopefully I can test myself against the best players in Europe and we can contest for trophies. The chance of European football and working with a well-respected coach will bring my game on.
This signing was made in the pre-Roman Abramovich era and so the club had only enjoyed limited success in the years prior to the transfer. They would not claim their first Premier League title until 2004/05 but players, such as Lampard, would play a key role in this future success.
Prior to the son of Frank Senior joining Chelsea, the club had won the FA Cup in 2000 and before that the League Cup in 1998. Premier League performances had been steady for a number of years though, with finishes of sixth, fourth, third, fifth and sixth in the seasons before Lampard’s arrival. Of course, the Abramovich money changed everything, but this signing, pre-dating that, certainly played a huge part in what was to come.
How Much Did Chelsea Pay for Frank Lampard?
Unlike many modern-day transfers which are rarely disclosed, certainly not fully, we can be quite confident about the fee the Blues paid to secure Lampard’s services. The fee was widely and pretty much universally reported as £11m. There was no notion of add-ons, staggered payments, sell-on clauses or anything else.
At the time, the move was considered a big risk by the club because they did not have a lot of cash and also because this was a large sum for a young player. In 2001, when Lamps moved from east to west London, the British transfer record was only £22.5m (Nicolas Anelka’s move away from Arsenal to Real Madrid) so £11m was considered a massive sum for one English club to pay to another, for an English player.
Lampard was brought in on a five-year deal and, whilst his wages were not disclosed at the time, by 2004/05, he was believed to be earning a massive £98,000 per week. That made him the highest-paid player in the Premier League as part of a deal to extend his stay with the club.
He signed further extensions, subsequently becoming the best-paid 30-year-old in top-flight history in 2008. That saw him become Chelsea’s highest-paid player on a weekly salary believed to be £140,000. He signed another five-year contract at the time and stayed with the club until 2014.
Was Lampard a Good Signing?
Even if you know nothing about Chelsea or Lampard, the paragraphs above should make it clear that Lampard was indeed a superb signing for the club. The fact he ended up staying with the Blues for well over a decade, earning new and lucrative contracts, is testimony to the regard in which he was held.
The attacking midfielder is arguably the best buy Chelsea have ever made and in hindsight, £11m looks very much like a bargain. He played 648 times and scored 211 goals for the Blues, adding in a further 145 assists. He was instrumental in the three Premier League titles won during his time at Stamford Bridge, not to mention the four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League.
His goals were undeniably the most impressive part of his game and largely came through his great ball striking, or his excellent timing of runs into the box. He sits third on the all-time list of Premier League appearances, with 609 (not all for Chelsea). He may be overtaken before long by James Milner but that tally is testament to his longevity and the fact he was rarely injured or suspended.
In addition, Lampard is the sixth-highest scorer in the history of the Premier League. What makes that even more amazing is that he never played anywhere other than midfield. Whilst he was an attacking midfielder he didn’t occupy any of the roles in a front three, or the three behind a striker we see in a modern 4-2-3-1. He was almost always one of a central two in a four-man midfield, or one of the three in a 4-3-3.
Returning to the list of the greatest goal-getters in the history of the EPL, he is the only player in the top 20 who was not an out-and-out striker. He also lies fourth in terms of Premier League assists, behind only Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney. Kevin De Bruyne (95 assists to Lampard’s 102) will no doubt surpass him before long but his ability to both score and create goals was what powered so much of Chelsea’s sustained success in the first decade of the new millennium.
Safe to say, therefore, that the 2001 capture of Frank Lampard for a fee of £11m ranks as a very, very good signing indeed.