Lampard to City -- No drama for Chelsea fans
The news that Chelsea legend Frank Lampard is reportedly close to signing a short-term deal with reigning Premier League titleholders Manchester City -- a proposed move that has grabbed the headlines in the past 24 hours -- really should come as no surprise given the lineage of New York City FC, the all-new Major League Soccer team he signed a two-year deal with last month.
Released by Chelsea at the end of last season when his contract expired after 13 glorious, trophy-laden years with the west London club, Lampard, 36 years of age and the Blues' all-time record goal scorer with 211 strikes in 649 appearances, still believed he had plenty to offer the game -- and few disagreed with him.
When the news broke that his Stamford Bridge career was at an end, rumours abounded that Lampard might be tempted to join either newly promoted side QPR managed by his uncle, Rs manager Harry Redknapp, or alma mater outfit West Ham United. Perish the thought! Blues supporters hoped that the man they revere as "Sir Frank" would think twice about joining another London club.
Whatever the case may be, Lampard elected to head for the Big Apple. "New York ticks all the right boxes for me. It's very exciting," he said, brimming with enthusiasm after the deal was announced. "Chelsea will always have a huge place in my heart, but it's now a new challenge. I had a fantastic 13 years there and can look back at that with pride, but it was a great time for me and Chelsea to move on. Having seen the vision of this club, I have seen a real long-term plan and I want to be involved and I want to keep on challenging myself."
Newly formed MLS football franchise New York City FC, the League's 20th expansion club, will begin playing competitively only when the 2015 season commences next March, leaving Lampard potentially kicking his heels to retain fitness for the next eight months. One option open to Lampard this winter was to join Australia A-League side Melbourne City, like New York City FC, majority-owned by Manchester City. This was a path chosen by former Atletico Madrid and Spain international striker David Villa, another recent acquisition by NYCFC. A transcontinental move of such magnitude was never really on the cards for Lampard given his close familial ties with England, and so it was only a matter of time before the player would make an announcement about his interim future.
Assuming he joins Manuel Pellegrini's side, Lampard will be afforded the opportunity to not only get match fit for the MLS season but also remain in contention for selection for Roy Hodgson's England side as they bid to qualify for Euro 2016, and by registering him for both their Premier League and Champions League squads, Man City will boost their quota of English players. It's a win-win situation.
Pellegrini has a star-studded squad of players to which Lampard would bring added craft and a winning mentality. But will he get a game for City? It doesn't really matter. For Chelsea fans, his legend is intact and will remain so forever. Should he feature for the Citizens in next weekend's Community Shield showdown with Arsenal, Blues supporters will applaud his every move and cheer to the rafters should he score the winner. "Super super Frank. Super super Frank. Super super Frank ... Super Frankie Lampard."