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Lampard declines offer to join Villa at Melbourne City FC

Posted on Jul 25 2014 | IANS

Canberra, July 25 : Ex-Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will not be joining the newly rebranded A-League side Melbourne City following a move to its affiliate club, New York City FC, a spokesman said Friday.

Lampard signed a two-year deal with the American Major League Soccer (MLS) team Thursday, becoming its second major signing behind Spanish World Cup winner David Villa, reports Xinhua.

However, unlike Villa, Lampard will not join its affiliate side Melbourne City ahead of the 2015 MLS season and will instead opt to train in England in an effort to maintain his fitness levels.

"There are no plans in place for Frank to come to Melbourne," a Melbourne City spokesman told News Ltd Friday.

United Arab Emirates businessman Khaldoon Al Mubarak acquired Melbourne City in January this year and opted to rebrand the club to match his other investments in English Premier League champions, Manchester City, and the newly formed MLS side, New York City FC.

Melbourne City has profited through its new ties by sealing a three-month loan deal for former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid forward Villa, who became New York City FC's first major signing in June.

Villa, who is Spain's all-time record scorer at international level, will play 10 games in Australia in preparation for the 2015 MLS season.

However, hopes for a similar deal with Lampard fell through after the three-time Premier League winner decided he would remain in England.

Lampard has been a free agent since he was released from Chelsea at the conclusion of the last Premier League season.

The 36-year-old, who is Chelsea's all-time leading scorer with 211 goals in 649 appearances, ended a 13-year stay at Stamford Bridge, but will prolong his career in the United States.

"New York ticks all the right boxes for me," Lampard said upon signing for the new franchise. "It's very exciting.

"Chelsea will always have a huge place in my heart, but it's now a new challenge. I had a fantastic 13 years there and can look back on that with pride, but it was a great time for me and Chelsea to move on.

"Having seen the vision of this club, I have seen a real long- term plan and I want to be involved and I want to keep challenging myself."

Lampard joins a growing list of former stars now plying their trade in the MLS, with Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane all having migrated to the United States.

Brazil's Kaka will also follow in the footsteps of Lampard and Villa by joining New York City FC's MLS rivals Orlando City for the 2015 season.

Melbourne City is likely to soften the blow of not securing Lampard by agreeing to a deal with Hull City midfielder Robert Koren.

Koren, who is a 61-time Slovenian international, is likely to become the club's official international marquee for the coming season.

He will also fill Melbourne City's fourth international spot on its roster, with Damien Duff, Jonatan Germano and Rob Wielaert already locked in for the new campaign.

As an international marquee, Koren won't be paid inside the club's USD 2.55 million salary cap.

Villa, who is listed as being at Melbourne City on a "guest appearance", is also exempt from the cap.

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