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Major League Soccer

Frank Lampard Joins David Villa at New York City FC

Frank Lampard, 36, signed a two-year deal with NYCFC on Thursday, joining David Villa in what is shaping up to be a very talented—and very old—Major League Soccer squad.
BY John Godfrey Posted
July 24, 2014
1:30 PM
NEW YORK CITY—New York City FC is still seven-plus months away from its Major League Soccer debut but the franchise already has two high-profile designated players on its roster. On Thursday England international and former Chelsea great Frank Lampard signed with NYCFC, joining Spain international David Villa on a squad that seems likely to shake up the status quo in MLS.

“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.”

Lampard captained England's 2014 World Cup team—a squad that failed to advance out of the group stage and was pilloried for its poor showing in Brazil. Lampard's resume in the English Premier League is much more impressive: The two-way midfielder played in nearly 600 games in the English top flight, helped Chelsea to three league titles, and served as captain on the London team's 2012 Champions League winners.

“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.” And his signing certainly makes the team old. Lampard will turn 37 next June, making him the third NYCFC player on the far side of 30. (David Villa is 32 and goalkeeper Josh Saunders is 33; the club only has four players currently on the roster.

“Frank has a tremendous appetite for the game and that will be an enormous help not only to me and the coaching staff but also the rest of the players, particularly the younger ones who can look up to Frank and attempt to emulate his achievements," said NYCFC coach Jason Kreis. "He has just come from the World Cup and still very much at the top of his game.”

Kreis' enthusiasm notwithstanding, Lampard is clearly on the downward slope of his career. The Romford, England, native logged more than 3,000 Premier League minutes in six of his first seven seasons with the club; over the last two campaigns he didn't even reach the 2,000-minute mark. In his first 10 seasons with Chelsea, Lampard never scored fewer than 10 league goals; last season he finished with five.

Still, he is a major talent and a highly competitive player who raises the profile of NYCFC and Major League Soccer.

“I am delighted Frank has joined us, he was an obvious choice, NYCFC technical director Claudio 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.”

MLS doesn't like to talk about player salaries, but it's safe to say that Lampard and Villa will not have come cheap. In fact, it's entirely possible that each of these players could be making more than some MLS rosters. If spending big on talent proves successful—at the box office, with TV ratings, and in the standings—it could compel other owners to follow suit.

Lampard is expected to go out on loan to remain in shape ahead of the start of the 2015 MLS season.

What do you think of the Lampard signing? Did NYCFC make a smart move? Share your thoughts below.

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