Zac Lee Rigg: Smoke doesn't mean fire in the case of Lampard to MLS

Plenty of reports and pictures indicate that Lampard is MLS-bound, but a mutual friendliness doesn't imply an imminent marriage.
Due to yellow card-accumulation, David Beckham watched the LA Galaxy lose 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union on July 4 from the AEG suite in the Home Depot Center. Snaps of Beckham and those around him splashed the tabloids in England the next day, mostly because of his company. He was joined by fellow (likely former) England international midfielder Frank Lampard.

Two days earlier reporters asked Galaxy coach and general manager Bruce Arena about rumors that AEG president Tim Leiweke was in discussions with Lampard.

"You got that from an English newspaper? A wire service?" Arena scoffed. "It's shocking that that might be wrong."

That Lampard, his agent, Steve Kutner, and his fiance, television presenter Christine Bleakley, are in Los Angeles doesn't necessarily mean a deal is imminent. Former Chelsea teammates Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou were soaking up the rays in California recently as well. After winning an elusive Champions League, the players are due a sunny vacation.

The English reports claim that Chelsea would let the 34-year-old midfielder leave a year before his contract expires to save a total of 9 million pounds owed (a combination of a reported weekly salary of 130,000 pounds plus a 1.75 million pound loyalty bonus if he completes his contract) and that the Galaxy is offering $20 million total over two years.

That would mean Lampard would earn the highest salary in MLS, over Thierry Henry's $5.6m a year, and grant him Designated Player status. Arena curtly pointed out that the Galaxy have already filled all three Designated Players slots. "You do the math," he said.

So here's the math.

DPs may earn more than the league cap of $350,000, with the excess egressing onto the club's investor/operator's tab. LA's three slots go to Beckham ($4m), captain Landon Donovan ($2.4m) and Irish striker Robbie Keane ($3.4m).

Beckham signed a contract extension in January which will last through the current season and which provides an option for an additional year.

Keane huffed off last Thursday when asked about the potential of a return to the Premier League in the offseason, but that had more to do with him already bristling over a separate line of questioning. The 31-year-old joined the Galaxy a year ago and has scored four goals in 12 appearances this season. He flew across the Atlantic for Euro 2012 and also spent the offseason on loan with Aston Villa.

Donovan's deal expires at the end of 2013. He recently put his $4.3 million home up for sale, according to Zillow, but Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl said via Twitter that Donovan hasn't lived in that house for years. Last week, when a journalist suggested that Donovan could pony up to finance signing Clarence Seedorf, Donovan joked: "I went through a divorce, man."

Seedorf adds an interesting twist. The Dutch midfielder trained several times with the Galaxy and reportedly considered MLS before signing with Botafogo in Brazil. "We've probably talked to every player you can imagine," Arena allowed.

When Beckham signed his extension in January, Leiweke said it took two years to sign the Englishman and that club was always on the lookout for its next marquee signing.

It's safe to say the Galaxy and Lampard have talked but that doesn't mean any union will come of it, either now or in the near future.

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