Chelsea all-time leading scorer Frank Lampard has sealed a long rumored move to MLS expansion side New York City FC on a two-year deal. This makes him the club's fourth player after David Villa, defender Jeb Brovsky and goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
The midfielder, who turned 36 last month, was unveiled at a Brooklyn press conference and hailed as "one of the greatest players in world history" by sporting director Claudio Reyna.
Frank Lampard: "I want to carry on challenging myself. I want to be that leader on and off the pitch."— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 24, 2014
Since the club, which will play home matches at Yankee Stadium, won't join the league until next season, there remains the matter of what Lampard will do between now and then. He said at his press conference that would keep fit, but that the logistics of how he would do that haven't been decided yet. His new teammate, David Villa, will join NYCFC's sister club in Australia, Melbourne City, for 10 matches between October and December. So that, or perhaps a short-term move back to the Premier League, could be an option.
Lampard and Villa fill two of the club's three Designated Player slots, leaving room for one more star signing before the club's first MLS match in March of 2015. With those two already signed up and the deep pockets of NYCFC parent club Manchester City, it shouldn't be difficult to attract a third big-name player.
Lampard told NYCFC's official website:
“I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world,” said Lampard. “The passion of the nation’s fans at the World Cup was second to none and I am looking forward to meeting New Yorkers and tapping into their love of the game. It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City - I just can’t wait to get started and be part of it.”
“It is going to be an exhilarating opportunity for us all to create this fantastic new MLS Club, in a league that is growing quickly in popularity and ability. Hopefully my experience can help us have an impact in my first season. I love a challenge and being competitive and I know everyone at New York City FC does too. I am sure we will make the city and our fans proud.”
Lampard won the Premier League three times with Chelsea and the Champions League once in 2012. He has played in three World Cups for England and he captained the team in their final match of the 2014 group stage against Costa Rica, where they got their only point for a 0-0 draw. Lampard says that now that his club future has been decided, he will next decide whether he will retire from international duty or not.
Though not quite at the level of David Beckham joining the LA Galaxy in 2007 or the New York Red Bulls signing Thierry Henry in 2010, the addition of Lampard and Villa, along with 2007 Ballon d'Or winner Kaka at Orlando City, should provide good value for the league despite their advancing age.
Three of the league's top four scorers right now are Englishmen (Bradley Wright-Philips, Dom Dwyer and Jermain Defoe), while an Irishman who faced Lampard many times in the Premier League, LA's Robbie Keane, sits fifth.
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