This morning, we got the clearest indication yet that Frank Lampard may not be joining New York City FC in time for the season to begin. During his post-game remarks, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that Lampard wants to extend his loan to Manchester City.
Pellegrini confirms Lampard wants to extend loan: 'We know exactly what we must do. Frank wants to stay.' #mcfc— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) December 13, 2014
Sam Luckhurst, the football writer for the Manchester Evening News, was the writer who asked Pellegrini the question.
Yesterday, I reported that Pellegrini made his public case for keeping Lampard through the end of the season. While Pellegrini paid lip service to MLS, saying that it was "a very important league", it didn't change the fact that Pellegrini wanted badly for Lampard to stay.
Apparently, Lampard does as well. In his loan with Manchester City, the 36-year-old midfielder has been a revelation. Before this morning's game against Leicester City, Lampard had scored five goals in 13 games. He added another today to make it six goals in 14 games.
Moreover, in his appearances, Lampard has been one of Manchester City's best midfielders. Both Fernando and Fernandinho have been ineffective, while Samir Nasri is erratic, at best. Even Touré has been unable to replicate his scintillating form from last year.
So it's small wonder that Pellegrini wants Lampard to stay; it's little surprise that Lampard, given his performance, feels he can yet perform at a Premier League-level. With Manchester City having qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League, and trailing Chelsea by just three points in the Premier League title race, Lampard's experience is seen as invaluable. Lampard won the league three times, the European Cup once, and the Europa League once.
While a loan extension through January, possibly into the first week of February wouldn't be difficult, anything past that would cause severe difficulties for New York City. When Lampard was introduced as the team's second designated player, the assumption was that he would serve as the face of the team, given that he had carried out a similar role for his former club Chelsea. The team, set to play its maiden season come March, has sold 11,000 season tickets; many of those, anecdotally, because of the promise of seeing Lampard play in Yankee Stadium.
During his unveiling last July, Lampard was asked about playing for New York City.
"I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world," said Lampard. "The passion of the nation’s fans at the World Cup was second to none and I am looking forward to meeting New Yorkers and tapping into their love of the game. It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City - I just can’t wait to get started and be part of it."
It would seem that New Yorkers can start waiting. We will keep updating this fast-moving story as developments take place.