MLS expansion side New York City FC have officially announced the long-awaited signing of Frank Lampard, following the midfielder’s departure from Chelsea at the end of last season.
Spending 13 years at Stamford Bridge after his move from boyhood side West Ham United in 2001, Lampard scored a club record 211 times in 648 games for Chelsea, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013.
Leaving the Blues this summer after the expiration of his contract, the 36-year-old becomes NYCFC’s second Designated Player, following the addition of Spanish striker David Villa last month, signing a 2-year deal worth a reported £90k-per-week, which would make him the highest paid star in MLS.
Officially announced as the league’s 20th franchise in May last year, the team are set for their inaugural season in 2015, alongside fellow expansion outfit Orlando City FC, who recently added Brazil legend Kaka for their top-flight debut and are now in hot pursuit of former AC Milan compatriot Robinho.
A joint venture between Manchester City and MLB’s New York Yankees, who together paid a reported $100 million for the team’s expansion rights, NYCFC were also looking to complete a deal for Barcelona legend Xavi this week, but the midfielder is now said to be staying with the Spanish giants until at least January, after negotiations broke down.
With Villa already set for a six-month loan to A-League side Melbourne City FC, another of Manchester City’s associate clubs, it’s expected that Lampard will join his new teammate in Australia in order to maintain his fitness, before returning in January for pre-season training.
After 29 goals in 106 appearances for England since his 1999 debut, the veteran made what was likely his final international bow this summer, captaining the side to a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica in their final group game at the World Cup, although he has yet to formally announce his retirement.
In a year which has seen other stars such as fellow Englishman Jermain Defoe, Kaka, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Villa move to MLS, Lampard’s arrival is the latest major coup for the ever-growing league, at a time when the game’s profile in the USA is at an all-time high.