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Former NYCFC midfielder named manager of Chelsea FC

Courtesy Chelsea FC

New York City FC will always have a funny relationship with Frank Lampard.

The second signing in club history after David Villa, Lampard’s arrival in New York City was delayed after he was deemed too important by City Football Group to be wasted on the narrow field at Yankee Soccer Stadium, and instead the midfielder stayed in England for the first half of NYCFC’s inaugural season to play in the Premier League for Manchester City. If you want to understand the pecking order in CFG’s growing global empire of football clubs back then, all you had to do was watch NYCFC’s $6 million Designated Player spend a good chuck of 2015 coming off the bench for Man City.

Lampard eventually made the move to Big Apple, scoring a decent number of goals with unexpected parts of his body: Hip, shin, knee. More importantly, he proved to be a mentor to younger players such as Jack Harrison, and helped the young club develop a culture of professionalism and high expectations. Lamps retired at the end of the 2016 season after making 29 appearances and scoring 15 goals in Bronx Blue, and left NYCFC on good enough terms.

But the question remains: Can NYCFC lay claim to Lampard?

We ask because Lampard is in the news again. The former Chelsea player was just named caretaker manager of that club a little over two years after getting sacked as head coach. We’ll let our British colleagues unpack what his return might mean to football and Lampard’s legacy. The revolving door at Chelsea makes for good storytelling.

More to the point, nobody draws strong association between New York City and Lampard: The headlines in England will never read “Chelsea name former NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard caretaker manager.” But does the New York City fam feel a connection to Frank, and therefore his surprise return to take over at Chelsea?

After all, Lampard played for just five clubs in his 21-year career: West Ham United, Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester City, and NYCFC. That’s four clubs in the English Premier League — and New York City. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

Did a little bit of New York City rub off on Lamps? Or was he just passing through, a long-term tourist with an Airbnb who goes shopping in SoHo on Sundays to feel authentic?

Our guess is that very little of the Boogie Down Bronx will find its way to Stamford Bridge. Which is too bad — they could use some of that dawg in them.

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