When the news broke in the summer that Frank Lampard would be leaving Chelsea, New York City moved quickly to make him the poster-boy of MLS. He, and David Villa, were meant to continue the work in glamourising the division initially started by David Beckham and Thierry Henry. But then Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City came calling...
Only by the time the season draws to a close in May will the true repercussions of that move be evident. For now he is quite content in his role as late match-winner. He does not start, but it does not matter. Inevitably, as they have throughout his career, the goals still come for one of England's best players of the modern era.
The news that Lampard will be remaining at the Etihad Stadium until the end of the season has irked all those in America, with it appearing increasingly unlikely that he will ever kick a ball for his parent club.
But it is no surprise. The excitement and thrills of a Premier League title race are unparalleled, and clearly more than enough to keep him on English shores for the time being. Why, with his performances and contribution growing by the game, would he leave now? If there is one last winners medal to be won, Lampard has no choice but to stay around.
Yes New York has things Manchester does not. Glitz and glamour, stunning skyscrapers and a different way of life. But the MLS' reputation as a graveyard for washed-up stars precedes it. The class of football is the complete opposite to that of over here. David Villa is on loan from the MLS side in Australia, but that Lampard remains a key part of the best league in the world is an achievement to be admired rather than vilified.
The former Chelsea midfielder has played a starring role in City's surge towards the summit. They are still missing Sergio Aguero, but the performances of the Blues legend are propelling their quest to retain the title.
He scored the winner against Sunderland in a contest that saw them draw level against his former employers at the summit on New Year's Day. With every goal comes a little message to Jose Mourinho that despite signing Cesc Fabregas, his old asset still has a starring role to play.
Eyebrows were raised at the club's decision to let him go in the first place. Pace and prowess can vanish with age, but his timely ability to ghost into the penalty area represents a serious threat for any side. It is no surprise to see him etching his name all over this season, albeit in the sky blue of the defending champions.
He is here for the now and that is all that matters. Class is permanent. And only come the end of the season will his status at City grow a little bit clearer.
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