New York City FC announced their second major signing of the summer on Thursday, adding English World Cup veteran and longtime English Premier League midfielder Frank Lampard ahead of their Major League Soccer debut next year.
The 36-year-old Lampard will join the club as a Designated Player and is the second DP signed in the past eight weeks by NYCFC, who made Spanish World Cup winner and former Atlético Madrid striker David Villa their first player in franchise history in early June.
“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,” Lampard said in a statement. “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.”
Lampard announced earlier this year that he would not return to EPL powerhouse Chelsea, where he’s spent the past 13 years as one of the club’s most respected and recognizable faces. He’s been out of contract since the two sides officially parted ways in early June.
Details of the contract were not disclosed per league and team rules, but sporting director Claudio Reyna confirmed the contract runs two years during Lampard's introductory press conference. Reyna and Lampard also said rumors of a loan move similar to Villa's with Australian side Melbourne City FC before NYCFC make their MLS debut in 2015 were premature.
“I am delighted Frank has joined us, he was an obvious choice," Reyna said. "I have played against him many times and can vouch for his quality. Frank is one of the best midfielders to have played the modern game, a legend in England and hopefully he will become one here, too.”
Lampard joins NYCFC with one of the most respected resumes of any player currently in MLS. A stalwart in the midfield for the English national team for the past decade, he appeared for the Three Lions in the each of the past three World Cups, most recently captaining the side to a scoreless draw in their final group stage game against Costa Rica in Brazil on June 24.
His 106 career caps are tied for sixth all-time in England history, and he’s ninth all-time in goals with 29.
He’s also one of the longest-tenured players in EPL history, finishing his career there last spring with 577 career appearances, second only to Manchester United mainstay Ryan Giggs (632).
The vast majority of those came with Chelsea, where he emerged as the club’s all-time leading scorer (211 goals) and a catalyst for three English Premier League crowns, including back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. He also helped the team to the UEFA Champions League title in 2011-12 that was the first in the club’s history (right).
“I am really looking forward to working with Frank,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “His leadership, maturity and experience are perfect characteristics for a new Club like ours. He is a rare talent, one that scores a lot of goals from midfield, yet is also a disciplined defender and someone who reads the game brilliantly. A gift for a coach.”
Lampard has been linked to MLS numerous times in the past, most notably to a potential move to the LA Galaxy after the 2012-13 Premier League season, before manager José Mourinho returned to Chelsea and kept Lampard in the fold. A number of outlets also reported earlier this year that the Galaxy were interested in Lampard for a summertime pickup, after his contract with Chelsea expired.
“It is going to be an exhilarating opportunity for us all to create this fantastic new MLS club, in a league that is growing quickly in popularity and ability," Lampard said. "Hopefully my experience can help us have an impact in my first season. I love a challenge and being competitive and I know everyone at New York City FC does, too. I am sure we will make the city and our fans proud.”
Lampard has also played against the MLS All-Stars twice in his career with Chelsea, and scored a goal in his most recent appearance in 2012.
NYCFC have also added defender Jeb Brovsky and goalkeeper Josh Saunders to their roster ahead of the 2015 season. Brovksy has been loaned to reigning Norwegian champs Strømsgodset, while Saunders will play for the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL.