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Frank Lampard at Manchester City: pawn or player?

With the ink barely dry on Frank Lampard’s move to New York City FC in the MLS, the fifth highest goalscorer in Premier League history has made a swift return home.

Well, not quite home. Though Lampard has returned to England and the Premier League, the England international has secured a loan move to champions Manchester City, merely weeks after ending his glorious 13-year association with title rivals Chelsea.

Lampard’s new club are second-favourites with Coral, behind his old side Chelsea, for the Premier League title at 5/2 and fifth in the market for the Champions League at 11/1.

At 36-years-old, it’s certainly a curious signing for the opulent Manchester City, who could ostensibly earmark any central midfielder in the world.

City can easily brand it an auspicious signing by suggesting a quick scan of Lampard’s CV. It’s no secret the Citizens wish to make a tangible imprint on the Champions League, and someone as decorated as Lampard could be viewed as an influential asset in that assault – albeit until he returns to the US in January.

The scepticism spawns from City hierarchy, who could be said to have their affluent fingers in several continental pies.

City already have the forthcoming American franchise New York City FC and Melbourne City in Australia under their umbrella, and have also invested a minority stake in Japanese side Yokohoma F Marinos.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has already suggested that this move could be an avenue for City to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules, which they broke and were sanctioned for last season.

Lampard managed 26 league games for Chelsea last term, but it was the first time in 11 years he failed to reach double figures for goals scored. He only managed to chime in with six to the Blues’ cause, clearly indicating his contributions and influence began to wane at Stamford Bridge.

The England centurion isn’t the sort of character to head to Manchester and stand idly by making up the numbers, but he may well be forced to. Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, David Silva and new signing Fernando will all be of the belief they will play a great part in Mauricio Pelligrini’s plans.

Besides, Toure was spectacular in the roaming role last season that Lampard so richly enjoyed at Chelsea down the years, so would Manuel Pellegrini really sacrifice his balance to include an ageing player? England fans will testify, a deeper lying Lampard is like a bottle of cola gone flat.

A changing room as star studded and experienced as City’s may have no cause for a veteran’s rub, but Lampard is still a proven winner, and that in itself is an invaluable commodity.