The list of $6 million men in Major League Soccer will grow again when midfielder Frank Lampard finally joins up with New York City FC.
The Chelsea legend, who is spending the 2014-15 English Premier League season with Manchester City, will earn an annual base salary of $6 million according to the terms of the 1.5-year NYCFC deal he signed in January, a source with knowledge of the contract told SI.com.
Lampard’s wages will be pro-rated this season. He’ll then earn the full $6 million in 2016, as well as a marketing bonus.
His future NYCFC teammate, Spanish forward David Villa, already is making that amount, while Orlando City’s Kaká ($6.66 million base salary) and Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley ($6 million) crossed that threshold last year, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union.
As for newer designated players, Sportsnet reported in January that TFC playmaker Sebastian Giovinco is “believed” to be on a $7 million-per-year contract, while Jozy Altidore inked a five-year deal worth approximately $30 million, according to ESPN. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who will join the LA Galaxy this summer on an 18-month contract, will earn “around $6 million” per season, ESPN reported.
Reigning MLS MVP Robbie Keane, who is expected to re-sign with the Galaxy, was a relative bargain in 2014 at $4.5 million.
Lampard, who will turn 37 in June, is the oldest of that group, and he’ll be under some pressure once he arrives in the U.S. NYCFC, parent company City Football Group and MLS faced criticism over the winter when it was revealed that Lampard’s “loan” to Manchester City actually was a short-term contract with CFG that was then extended to allow the veteran to finish out the EPL season.
NYCFC has posted a 1-6-3 record in Lampard's absence. Coach Jason Kreis’s squad has been competitive in most games but its inability to take advantage of possession or to make plays in key moments has proven costly. There's rhythm, but not enough threat. And while there’s some skill in midfield (Ned Grabavoy, Mix Diskerud, Mehdi Ballouchy), the range, versatility and verve Lampard displayed in his prime has been lacking—not to mention the goals.
Only the Montreal Impact have scored fewer goals per game than NYCFC, and the CONCACAF Champions League runner-up has played half the number of league matches.
The good news for NYCFC is that MLS is quite forgiving. The expansion team still is only three points out of a playoff spot. If Lampard’s play justifies the salary, the New Yorkers should have plenty to play for this summer and fall. He’ll be available for selection (at least technically) for the first time on July 12, when NYCFC hosts Toronto. A club source told SI.com that Lampard has been in regular touch with Kreis and future teammates over the past several months.
Lampard has made 30 league appearances this season for second-place Manchester City (36 overall), starting eight times and scoring five EPL goals. He’s started City’s past three games. The deposed champions will close out the season at Swansea City and then home to Southampton on May 24.