Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini bids to end Lampard saga

Manuel Pellegrini wants a line to be drawn under the Frank Lampard contract saga.

Manchester City on Friday admitted making mistakes in the way the former Chelsea midfielder's move to the Etihad Stadium was reported.

It was claimed in August that Lampard had joined City on loan until the start of January after penning a deal with Major League Soccer side New York City FC earlier in the summer.

There has been confusion over the precise nature of Lampard's contract status in relation to both clubs since it was announced on New Year's Eve that he would remain with the Barclays Premier League champions until the end of the season.

That announcement has delayed his debut with sister club New York until midway through their first MLS campaign, to the anger of many fans in the United States.

On Thursday, the Premier League announced that, after reviewing Lampard's status, it was satisfied his contract was solely owned by Manchester City with no agreement in place between the two clubs - which sparked fresh speculation he might never play in MLS.

But Lampard issued a statement via his representatives which said he does have an agreement in place with New York and will move there in the summer.

Quoted in the Guardian, City said: "The statement on the NYCFC website in July saying Lampard's two-year contract took effect from Aug 1, 2014 was a mistake. [The] initial statement on City's website that it was a loan was also an error.

"There was a head of terms commitment from Lampard to join NYCFC from Jan 1, 2015. That was extended to the end of this season. Any contract with NYCFC will now take effect from July 1, 2015."

Manchester City and New York City, both part of the City Football Group, have been criticised on both sides of the Atlantic for their handling of the situation.

With Yaya Toure heading to the African Nations Cup, City were understandably keen to keep Lampard after his return of seven goals, largely as a substitute, but in doing so they have angered the fan base of New York City before they have kicked a ball in competitive action.

Lampard has been the face of New York City's marketing campaign ahead of their inaugural season and many fans demanded a refund on their season tickets after it was confirmed he would remain in Manchester until the summer.

City boss Pellegrini said: "I think it's an issue which is finished. Frank now is here. I know that there a lot of different opinions about Frank, about that. I respect all of them, but the decision is taken already and Frank will stay here until the end of the season."

Lampard released a statement via Steve Kutner Management on Friday morning seeking to clarify the situation, although clarity is one thing sorely lacking.

"I want to make it completely clear about my situation as I have read a lot of lies and nonsense over the last few days," the 36-year-old said.

"When released from Chelsea last year at the end of my contract I signed a commitment to play for NYCFC for two years starting January 1, 2015. I was then offered the chance to train and be part of the Man City squad in the interim to keep myself in the best shape going into New York.

"This period has since been extended by Man City and I will now start playing for NYCFC at the end of this current Premier League season.

"There has always been a constant dialogue between all parties in this time to find the best solution for everyone. I can say that I am very excited about arriving in New York and giving everything to the team to make us a success in the MLS as soon as possible."

Pellegrini, meanwhile, did not rule out trying to hold onto Lampard beyond the end of the season.

The Chilean said: "I think Frank is doing very well with us and I am happy with him as part of the squad. Not only on the pitch but off the pitch, as a professional, as a leader, which is always good for young players, to see him working here.

"But at the end of the season, he finishes his contract here. I cannot say what will happen in the future. If I say I cannot say, you will suppose that maybe he will stay here."

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