Chelsea could live to regret allowing Frank Lampard to leave Stamford Bridge after 13 years and a club-record 211 goals, according to Harry Redknapp.
Lampard confirmed on Monday evening that he will quit the Blues this summer, with the 35-year-old widely tipped to join Sheikh Mansour's new Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC.
And QPR boss Redknapp, speaking at a press conference on Monday morning, felt the Blues may rue deciding to let his nephew go.
"Absolutely I would keep him at Chelsea," Redknapp said of Lampard, who joined the west London club from West Ham in 2001.
"He's worth his weight in gold just to be around the place.
"I think Roy (Hodgson) feels the same. You need good characters around whether it is England or your football club.
"You've got (Steven) Gerrard and Lampard with England - proper guys that the youngsters can look up to."
The 10 best free agents on the market this summer
The 10 best free agents on the market this summer
1/8 Guillermo Ochoa
The Mexican goalkeeper rose to fame thanks to his brilliant performance against Brazil in the World Cup. The 28-year-old, who left Ajaccio at the end of the season, has been linked with a move to the Premier League.
2/8 Rio Ferdinand
Both halves of Manchester United’s famous central defence for the past eight years are leaving this summer. Nemanja Vidic is off to Italy to play for Internazionale while Rio Ferdinand was told at the weekend that United would not be renewing his contract. Ferdinand said last week that if United did not offer him a new deal that he would be “open to offers” but joked that he “would not go below the Conference”. That is unlikely to be an issue as there should be no shortage of clubs looking for a defender of his experience. Queen’s Park Rangers, should they come up, are managed by Ferdinand’s old mentor Harry Redknapp, while even bigger teams like Arsenal could be tempted.
3/8 Diego Lugano
The Uruguay captain hit the headlines in Brazil for the wrong reasons as his complete denial that team-mate Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini when everyone else could see it. His contract with West Brom is up for renewal, but the 33-year-old is unlikely to remain in the Premier League.
4/8 Nicolas Anelka
Sacked by West Brom last season for his controversial 'Quenelle' gesture, Anelka has not yet confirmed whether he will sign for a new club - should anyone want him - or announce his retirement.
5/8 Frank Lampard
As with Terry and Cole, Lampard’s Chelsea deal expires at the end of the season and he is likely to follow Terry in signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge. Lampard is not the dynamic presence in midfield that he once was, and he started only 20 Premier League games this season. But as his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad demonstrated, his experience and presence are invaluable and he is more than worth having around. That said, if he does not renew at Chelsea, there would surely be offers from abroad, not least from long-time suitors LA Galaxy.
6/8 Marouane Chamakh
The Moroccan striker has completed a one-year deal at Crystal Palace that could barely have gone much better. Since he was entrusted with a role as a withdrawn striker by Tony Pulis in December, he has been excellent, scoring five goals and helping to drag Palace out of the relegation zone and into safety. Chamakh will be discussing his future with the club soon but he said last week that agreeing a new deal at Palace was his “priority”, after building an excellent rapport with the fans and playing his best football since his arrival in England from France in 2010. If not, he would like to stay in the Premier League.
7/8 Samuel Eto'o
The striker did not cover himself in glory at the 2014 World Cup, as Cameroon's campaign was blighted by a money row over bonuses and poor performances in Brazil that saw them eliminated at the group stages. However, the Champions League winner will still have a number of clubs interested in his services, with Arsenal being linked in recent weeks.
8/8 Nicklas Bendtner
Despite a fairly successful season by his standards, Nicklas Bendtner is on his way out of Arsenal. The Dane has scored twice this year, in wins over Hull and Cardiff, but he fell behind Yaya Sanogo in the pecking order while not always conducting himself immaculately off the pitch. He turned down moves away from Arsenal last summer that would have meant pay cuts but this summer he must be hopeful of maximising his value as a free agent.
The MLS season does not start until March, so 103-cap England midfielder Lampard could seek a short-term Barclays Premier League loan, with Redknapp's newly promoted QPR among the potential suitors.
Lampard claimed 11 major trophies during his 13 years at Stamford Bridge, making 648 club appearances and becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
Redknapp feels Lampard may have decided to chase a new challenge while he is still just fresh enough to offer a major impact at a new club.
"Maybe if he's going to go, now's the time," the former Tottenham boss said.
"I'm sure he'll be focused on the World Cup now - he won't be thinking about much else.
"It could be exciting to go to New York, though - a new project over there - but he'll be successful in whatever he wants to do.
"The only person Frank would ask for advice is his dad, but he'll know, he's a very shrewd boy.
"He's got his girlfriend as well, and they might fancy New York for a couple of years.
"I don't think Frank will be happy not playing regularly - he's not used to it and he won't fancy not playing."
Redknapp, who spent three years at the Seattle Sounders between 1976 and 1979, believes MLS still has some way to go to rival the calibre of stars that made the move some 40 years ago.
"I went out to Seattle and it's a great time, a fantastic experience," he said.
"Thierry Henry's out there now and Jermain Defoe, but in the 1970s there were much better players out there!
"Seriously, though, you had Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Gerd Muller, Pele and Carlos Alberto.
"Most of that great Dutch team of the 1970s went out there, and even Bobby Moore and George Best at points too.
"I think it was far more star-studded then, but it has moved on a level again recently."
Spain striker David Villa, 32, was confirmed as the New York franchise's first-ever player on Monday.
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