Frank Lampard to stay at Man City through season, delay move to NYCFC

Frank Lampard will stay with Manchester City for the rest of the season after his contract was extended, meaning the former England midfielder will miss the start of New York City FC's maiden Major League Soccer campaign.

Man City were locked in talks with the Premier League as they entered the final few hours of Lampard's previous deal at the Etihad Stadium.

NYCFC confirmed that Lampard will miss the start of the MLS campaign, an absence that could extend into the summer, though the team said in a statement that Lampard's "exact starting date with New York City FC will be confirmed as the EPL and MLS seasons unfold."

The extension means Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who said he was keen to keep Lampard for the remainder of the campaign, has got his way.

NYCFC signed Lampard in July after he parted ways with Chelsea, the club where the England international enjoyed great success over 13 seasons, finishing as the Blues' all-time leading scorer with 211 goals in all competitions.

With the MLS expansion side not beginning league play until March 2015, a short-term move to Manchester City was agreed to. The intention was that the deal would allow Lampard to maintain his fitness and conclude at the beginning of January, thus allowing him to join up with NYCFC for preseason.

But Lampard's performances for the Sky Blues have been excellent throughout his short spell, notching six goals in 17 league and cup appearances.

And with Yaya Toure set to miss much of January because of his involvement with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, Pellegrini has made no secret of his desire to extend the deal. The Ivorian could be away for up to five weeks, which includes a potential Premier League title decider against Chelsea.

Given that Manchester City co-own NYCFC with the New York Yankees, it always seemed likely that Pellegrini's wish would be granted, and that has proved to be the case.

With Manchester City trailing league leaders Chelsea by three points at the midpoint of the season, Lampard's experience and ability will no doubt provide a boost to the Citizens, who are still involved in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League as well as the Prem title race.

On the other end of the spectrum, MLS expansion teams have historically struggled. Out of the 10 clubs to join MLS as expansion teams, only two have made the playoffs: the 1998 Chicago Fire and the 2009 Seattle Sounders. While NYCFC manager Jason Kreis enjoyed consistent success while in charge of Real Salt Lake, the presence of Lampard was thought to be a critical piece in getting the expansion club off to a good start.

"Frank is a star, and it is no surprise that Manchester City is rewarded by his contributions on the field every single day," NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said. "He is eager to get to New York once his commitment ends in England and will be available to play on arrival as a permanent member of the squad given he will come to us having played at the highest level."

No doubt, Kreis and Reyna will do their utmost to fashion a deep side that won't be dependent on one player, but they'll be hoping that Lampard's absence won't have too adverse an effect on NYCFC's performances over the first few months of the season.

"We are all committed to making sure we build a winning team and that our fans get to enjoy great soccer at every single game," Reyna said. "The opportunities open in the immediate transfer window combined with our recent successful draft ensure that we can continue to assemble a world-class team that will make New York City soccer fans proud."

For MLS, the optics make for grim viewing as well, although deputy commissioner Mark Abbott did his best to put the move in a positive light.

"Frank Lampard's performance at Manchester City reaffirms that he is one of the world's elite midfielders, and we look forward to him joining NYCFC during the 2015 season," he said.

Given NYCFC's subservient position to its parent club, there was little the league could do to prevent the move, but commissioner Don Garber has long touted MLS's aim of being one of the top leagues in the world. This move drives home the fact that it still has a very long way to go to even approach that goal.

Official NYCFC supporters group The Third Rail criticized the extension in a statement on their website.

"Many fans, including our members, decided to support the team, committed to season tickets, and bought merchandise under the impression that Frank Lampard would be playing for New York City Football Club, not Manchester City. Many of those fans are rightly outraged by this decision, and we support any course of action they take to voice their discontent over this decision," the statement said.

"Our support for our ownership group has been unwavering until now, but this we cannot support. We reject out of hand any suggestion that NYCFC is in any way secondary to Manchester City FC, regardless of the source, and are disappointed that City Football Group would give such an appearance."

Lampard will now be eligible for Man City to face Sunderland on New Year's Day, which he would not have been unless an agreement was reached.