Former Chelsea and Manchester City player Frank Lampard, has announced that he will leave New York City FC when his contract expires next month.
Lampard, 38, has been with the New York outfit for two years and played out his final matches in the sky blue colours in a gruelling exit in the MLS playoffs against Toronto FC – a 7-0 aggregate loss, where he completed 90 minutes in the initial 5-0 thrashing.
In a statement on NYCFC’s website, it read as he 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.“My teammates have been a pleasure to play alongside. The amazing fans have given me incredible support and backing.“I have very much enjoyed my time, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for such a great club and in such an incredible city.”"
Where statistics are concerned, his return isn’t too shabby at all – 15 goals in 31 appearances since he joined in 2014. Whilst fans didn’t take too kindly past the controversy from two years ago where Lampard signed for Manchester City on loan (which was later extended), when he had already ‘signed’ for NYCFC but under a non binding commitment to the team which clouded when he would arrive in the USA.
That eventually happened at the end of the 2014-15 Premier League season, so he missed the start of the MLS 2015 season – much to the furore of the NYCFC fans. Certainly not a good way to be coming into a new club.
His first season with the club was underwhelming, where injuries played a big part as well as his and the team’s form, who despite their marquee names finished 8th in the Eastern Conference table, and 17th in the overall table for the season. As expected, it didn’t help the cause for fans to have a reason to warm to him, especially whilst he sat and earned $6m during his debut season.
The 2016 season however, was a different story. Lampard scored 4 times as many goals as he did in 2015 and collected 3 times as many assists as 2015. 12 goals and 3 assists respectively, where famously he grabbed a hat-trick against the Colorado Rapids, influencing their push for the playoffs successfully this time around under coach Patrick Vieira.
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Perhaps there’ll be mixed feelings amongst the New York City faithfuls over a lasting legacy that the former England international might have brought, but he certainly brought a legacy alone in the club’s second season in MLS where they reached a historic first playoff. Done so off beautifully after the disasters of last season.
As brief as two years may sound, Lampard leaves with his head ultimately higher than he would’ve if he left last year. For that, he can safely thank the fans and swiftly move over to the next and final stage of his playing career, as a retirement surely looms after his next adventure.