Reports are beginning to surface that Manchester City has done a deal with Frank Lampard to extend his loan from their New York City FC (NYCFC) Major League Soccer (MLS) sister club past the December 31 deadline until mid-February at least. If true, this would give the club the cushion they need to continue to compete as they wait for the multiple injured players currently sidelined to return. With Yaya Toure also scheduled to be out for several weeks with his international schedule, the deal is doubly important to manager Manuel Pellegrini.
This reported deal would still not interfere with Lampard’s MLS schedule, as that season is not scheduled to begin until March. Any further extensions, however, might be more difficult to arrange. The 36-year-old star is a cornerstone of the NYCFC club, and his absence could potentially put a damper on their inaugural season. Fans in New York have already shown great excitement about Lampard’s inclusion on the squad during the exhibition matches already played in the U.S. this summer, and there is a lot of pressure not to disappoint the new fan base, particularly with heavy competition from multiple sports teams in the region.
Internal tug-of-war aside, City also has received criticism from other clubs in the Premier League over the loan of Lampard which has been renewed with the reports of him staying longer. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned the move as a ploy to get around league rules, and while admitting that it may be technically legal, has all but accused the club of violating the spirit and “moral” limits of the regulations. He speculated that Lampard had signed the contract with NYCFC out of disappointment over not having a continuing role with Chelsea, but was using the loan to City as a means of getting back to the Premier League while avoiding complications with the regulations. Pellegrini has not commented on what Wenger had to say, but there has been a lot of fan discussion of the issue on social media and in the comments on different news media sites. It is an issue which has divided supporters across England.
Lampard, who has played a huge role in the success of City, particularly with the loss of so many key players to injury, has been relatively silent during the debate. He has done his talking on the field. Scoring four goals, and helping solidify the City midfield, he has proven that he is not past his prime, as some had said prior to his departure from Stamford Bridge. As long as he has the stamina to continue in top form through the MLS season, this loan could prove to have been a huge boost to his career. The burgeoning American market is primed to welcome him with open arms.
Once Manchester City announces officially that the Lampard loan deal is done, the club supporters who have been holding their breath might rest a little easier, and move their focus toward more permanent moves that Pellegrini might have up his sleeve for the transfer window. Just three points behind Chelsea on the Premier League table, City is determined to hit the ground running after the January break and try to make it back-to-back titles. Adding a couple of insurance pieces which do not rely on the good will of their MLS sister club would go a long way toward easing the minds of supporters.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of Live4soccer – Flickr License