Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was all smiles upon being unveiled as New York City FC’s second major signing of the summer, sealing a two-year Designated Player contract with the MLS expansion side.
Officially announced as the league’s 20th franchise in May last year, NYCFC are 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, and are set for their inaugural season in 2015.
Leaving Chelsea this summer after the expiration of his contract, Lampard becomes the club’s second DP signing, following the addition of Spanish striker David Villa last month, with his deal reportedly set to make him the highest-paid player in the league.
‘It's a very, very exciting challenge for me in life terms,’ he said during a press conference in Brooklyn on Thursday. ‘I had a fantastic 13 years at Chelsea. I can look back on that with immense pride but it was certainly, I feel, a good time for myself and for Chelsea that I moved on.
‘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,’ he stated. ‘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.’
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.
With Villa already set for a six-month loan to A-League side Melbourne City FC, another of Man City’s associate clubs, the 36-year-old could join his new teammate in Australia in order to maintain his fitness, before returning in January for pre-season training.
Yet to make an announcement on his England future, the midfielder also stressed that he had still to decide whether to retire from international football, after a career which has boasted 29 goals in 106 games, spanning appearances at five major tournaments.
‘I now need to think about England and what I wanted to do with it,’ he added. ‘It won't be long. Now that I know where I'm playing next year, I can make that decision.’