Tariq Lamptey impressed against his former club which caused the wails to start. Don’t forget that he wanted out of Chelsea, not the other way around.
Before Reece James scored and quieted the crowd crying over Tariq Lamptey, that crowd spent the vast majority of the match doing the what could have been tango. Apparently Lamptey playing against his parent club caused the sweeping declaration that the Blues let one get away or they kept the wrong right back (again, quieted by James’ goal).
The thing is, that isn’t how the situation played out back in January. Frank Lampard gave Lamptey a debut. He was clear he wanted him to stay. All he had to do was sign a contract. But rather than stay and compete with James, Lamptey opted to leave for Brighton and make his own way in the world. Nothing wrong with that. A player only gets one career and he chose the option that made the most sense for him.
That is also why Chelsea fans shouldn’t really be swooning over him. Lampard made it clear he only wanted players at the club that wanted to be there. He made it clear that no one was guaranteed a spot, not even James, and every start was contestable. Lamptey analyzed all that and moved on. It is what it is and living in the past isn’t going to change it. Or worse, trying to discredit James because he stayed and Lamptey “got away”.
The Blues should be versed in this situation already. The club signed Diego Costa and almost immediately Romelu Lukaku forced his move out. Kevin De Bruyne was given little chance by Jose Mourinho, but he opted to make his departure permanent rather than a loan. Mohamed Salah was given his chance and it didn’t go well. He too was moved along.
All of these players ultimately made a choice: they didn’t want to be at Chelsea any longer. Maybe there were different factors involved but ultimately that is what it boiled down to. And ultimately, the club needs players that want to be at Stamford Bridge and players willing to compete for starts against whoever is around them. At some point career decisions come in to play, of course, but many times the chance is not even taken before the decision is made.
Lamptey made his decision. His Premier League success doesn’t change the calculus Chelsea, Lamptey, or James found themselves in not so long ago. The club tried to keep a hold of him but the decision was made. That doesn’t make James worse or Lamptey better or the club look silly. It’s just life.
Chelsea has, potentially, one of the world’s future best right backs on their roster. Brighton might too. At the moment, however, the club had to use one or the other and James was the chosen one. Lamptey moved on and he is not worth swooning over every time he plays Chelsea. A decision was made. Let him live it.