English midfielder Frank Lampard completed his second season with New York City FC in Major League Soccer last week after post-season elimination at the hands of Toronto FC. The club announced that the former Chelsea star will not be returning after his contract expires at the end of the calendar year.
In a statement regarding his departure, Lampard said “As my time at NYCFC comes to an end, I would like to thank so many people for the kindness and support that they have shown me over the last two years”.
Chelsea’s all-time leader in goals scored now begins the next chapter in his career and there are many different options ahead. Lampard’s time in the United States was an interesting one, full of ups and downs unlike many before.
Lampard took on the unique challenge of not only coming over the United States, but being part of a brand new MLS franchise. City Football Group launched NYCFC in 2015, and made David Villa and Lampard its first two big signings. But that first year became an awkward time for both Lampard and his new fans at NYCFC.
After not arriving ahead of the team’s inaugural season, it was discovered that Lampard had never actually signed with NYCFC and his contract was simply with CFG. After many dramatic months while playing for Manchester City, Lampard finally arrived in New York in July.
Injuries and fitness issues limited him to only ten league appearances, not exactly endearing the star to his new home supporters at Yankee Stadium.
Lampard’s second MLS season did not begin any better. Injuries kept him out until May, coming on to a less-than-friendly reception as a substitute in a humiliating 7-0 home loss to local rivals the New York Red Bulls.
But the 2016 campaign would turn around in a major way for both Lampard and New York City FC. Once fully fit, he scored 12 goals in 19 regular season matches. A spectacular moment for Lampard was scoring the first hat-trick in club history against the Colorado Rapids in late July.
Thanks to the fine form of Lampard in the second half of the season, manager Patrick Vieira led NYCFC to their first playoff appearance.
Frank Lampard has spent his entire life in football. From his family to his incredible achievements on the pitch, it seems unlikely that he will be far from the sport even if his days as a player are over.
Rumours are abound about a possible return to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea. As a coach and a mentor, there are few figures in the Blues’ history that would command respect quite like Frank Lampard. The club and the supporters seem to want to see that happen and it would be a fitting way for the Chelsea legend to begin his next professional phase.
Other European and MLS clubs will no doubt make enticing offers, but all signs point to Lampard returning to London at the start of 2017.
Three Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League triumph and over 200 goals scored with Chelsea made Frank Lampard a legend at Stamford Bridge. It seems only right that after his illustrious playing career, he begins his next chapter in the place of his greatest victories.