Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has insisted that club legend Frank Lampard will still be welcome at Stamford Bridge this season, even after agreeing to join Premier League rivals Manchester City on loan.
The Sun reports how the 36-year-old midfielder - who penned a deal with new Major League Soccer franchise New York City following his free transfer departure from west London - is set to spend the first six months of the 2014/15 campaign at the Etihad Stadium.
Lampard has been criticised by a number of disgruntled Blues supporters for agreeing to turn out for Manuel Pellegrini's side, but Mourinho maintains that the England international is free to play wherever he chooses.
"Frank is a free agent. He can choose his club so I have no problem at all," confirmed the Portuguese tactician.
"When he comes to Stamford Bridge he is welcome. When he comes to the Emirates, he is at the Emirates. There is no problem."
Premier League offers spurned
It was previously reported that Lampard turned down offers from a number of Premier League clubs because he didn't want to tarnish his reputation amongst Chelsea supporters, and the prospect of taking on a new challenge across the Atlantic was perceived as unlikely to cause much of a fuss.
However, the fact that New York City - like Melbourne City FC in Australia - are under the same ownership as Manchester City, means it has paved way for an unlikely short-term switch to the Citizens.
Lampard signed a two-year contract with the newly formed MLS outfit, but as they're not set to enter the American league until March 2015 he'll return to England on loan until January in a bid to maintain his fitness ahead of the new season.
The veteran could turn out to be an important player for Manchester City in the Champions League, particularly when you consider the homegrown player quota. Pellegrini must include five homegrown stars in a restricted 21-man squad for Europe's elite club competition after the club failed Uefa's Financial Fair Play test.
Lampard scored 211 goals in 649 matches for Chelsea, but was forced to end his 13-year affiliation with the club when they decided against offering him another one-year contract this summer.
Their failure to negotiate a new deal could now see the club legend turn out against the Blues when Mourinho's men travel to Manchester for a Premier League showdown on September 21.