Frank Lampard came to New York City FC on a wave of hype appropriate for a player with his reputation in the game but a delayed arrival, injuries, and deceit over his contract status brought into question just how interested the former Chelsea great really was in playing for his new club.
Much, if not all, was forgiven once Lampard finally found his way onto the narrow Yankee Stadium pitch and started banging in goals but not enough to cause any great sense of loss among NYCFC fans in reaction to Monday’s announcement that the midfielder would not be re-upping for a third season in the Bronx.
In a move that most observers expected Lampard has elected to move on after playing just 29 of the 68 regular season matches that NYCFC has played since his “signing” was announced in July 2014.
Signing is placed in quotes here because of the murky details surrounding Lampard’s contract, which eventually was revealed to be a nonbinding agreement, rather than what we generally consider to be a contract.
Lampard wound up staying with NYCFC parent club Manchester City through the first months of the 2015 MLS season, denying the first year club of his leadership attributes in its formative days.
When Lampard did make his way to the Bronx in August of 2015 the injury bug soon hit, limiting the 37-year-old to just 10 appearances as New York City missed out on the playoffs costing head coach Jason Kreis his job.
Lampard’s balky calf kept him sidelined until May 22 this season as New York adjusted to new manager Patrick Vieira. Once in the lineup, Lampard won over the fans who had once booed him, also silencing the “worst DP in league history” talk that had begun to attach itself to him.
So, Lampard moves on now, telling NYCFC.com,
“I have very much enjoyed my time, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for such a great club and in such an incredible city.”
Patrick Vieira had this to say. “Everybody talks about Frank’s goal-scoring record from midfield but I can tell you after a year of working with him, he brings so much more to a team than just goals.”
“What Frank has brought to the locker room is something just as important – his experience, his elite mentality and his mentorship for the younger members of our squad have helped us greatly this year.”
Lampard hasn’t confirmed his future plans but he has been rumored to be up for a role with Chelsea. What is certain is that NYCFC has to get it right when it comes to replacing Lampard.
Despite the pairs undoubted quality, Lampard was never the best fit alongside fellow veteran Andrea Pirlo in the New York midfield, and with NYC expected to target another Designated Player to replace Lampard it now becomes imperative that the club gets younger and more athletic with its next big money signing.