When Manchester City contract expires, Lampard belongs to NYCFC

The news that Frank Lampard's contract with English Premier League side Manchester City has been extended raised a host of questions and created immense confusion, especially as it relates to the player's relationship with MLS side New York City FC.

One thing is certain. Once Lampard's deal with Man City expires he is officially an NYCFC player. What isn't certain, however, is exactly which day that contract runs out.

Lampard's presumed signing with the MLS expansion side was announced last July, leading many to conclude that his deal with Manchester City was a loan. Yet when Lampard's deal with the Citizens was announced in August, the word "loan" was conspicuously absent. The same was true of today's statement from NYCFC regarding the player's extension.

An NYCFC source confirmed earlier reports to ESPN FC that Lampard's current contract is with Man City and not New York. The source added that the former England international's current deal would see him stay with the Citizens until the end of their current season.

That means Lampard could part ways with Man City as early as the club's final league match against Southampton on May 24, or as late as the UEFA Champions League final on June 6, though the latter scenario seems unlikely.

Could Lampard be made available before then? The source indicated it was possible, but unlikely given the high regard that Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has for the former Chelsea man.

Once Manchester City's season ends, Lampard's contract with NYCFC will kick in. FIFA regulations, however, state that unless Lampard's contract is terminated before the closing of MLS's main transfer window -- set to take place in early May -- then he won't be able to play for NYCFC until the opening of the summer window in July.

MLS has yet to clear up the details, though NYCFC director of football Claudio Reyna tweeted that Lampard would be available "upon arrival." The source said Lampard wouldn't have to wait for the opening of the July window and would be available to play immediately for NYCFC.

The source declined to elaborate on why NYCFC announced Lampard's signing last year when he was technically a Manchester City player. However, it was stressed that once Lampard's current deal with Manchester City ends, that will signify the end of that relationship and that Lampard will be an NYCFC player from that day forward.

In light of recent events, NYCFC fans will be justifiably wary of such a pronouncement.