Frank Lampard joining Villa at Melbourne City

MICHAEL LYNCH
Last updated 12:04 01/07/2014
Frank Lampard
Getty Images
ENGLAND LEGEND: Frank Lampard.
David Villa
Getty Images
SPAIN STAR: David Villa.

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I'll see your David Villa, and raise you a Frank Lampard.

The former Spain striker may have won more than the English midfield legend - a World Cup medal takes some topping - but the two are amongst the biggest names in the game where thirty-something superstars are concerned.

So the reports on the English red top the Daily Mirror that Melbourne City (nee Melbourne Heart) have secured Lampard's services on a short term deal similar to Villa's are an amazing shot in the arm for the club and, by extension, the A-League.

Like Villa, Lampard is set to join Manchester City's new American franchise New York City when it swings into action in March 2015, when the next Major League Soccer season kicks off.

But like the Spaniard, the England man cannot afford to be out of action for seven or eight months ahead of the start of the American venture - hence the plan to send him to Melbourne to join Villa at Melbourne City and boost the now Manchester City-owned club's status and Australian championship prospects.

When City bought the struggling Melbourne Heart they promised big investment and big name players, but nobody quite imagined that they might parade two men of such stature, both Champions League winners, who had appeared for their country at the World Cup in Brazil.

It might only be on short term contracts and essentially as an extended pre-season for the MLS, but the professionalism and personal pride of both individuals will ensure that they arrive fit and in good shape and perfectly prepared to represent their new club to the best of their abilities.

However, it is to be hoped that Lampard knows a bit more about Melbourne City than Villa. After the Spain v Australia game in Curitiba, the final match in this World Cup for both teams, Villa was brought in to meet the media having been voted man of the match by a global TV audience.

He was emotional about the end of his international career, and spoke effusively about a new chapter of his career opening with his move to America. He did not mention his 10-game guest stint with City once during the press conference period.

Perhaps Lampard, if the stories of his short term move Down Under are true, has got a better memory.

The signing of such big names is a massive boost to the status and image of Melbourne City, and the pressure will now be on for the club, which hitherto has struggled to gain traction under the larger shadow cast longer established neighbours Melbourne Victory, to grow their crowds and emerge as a force in the game themselves.

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It promises to make the opening weeks of the new A-League season particularly interesting - and challenging for not just City boss John Van't Schip, upon whom the weight of expectation will fall, but upon other A-League coaches and defenders who could be in for a torrid time if these two hit it off as a combination.

- The Age

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