Frank Lampard was again on the scoresheet for City this past weekend in the win at Southampton which led to another round of speculation over his future at the club.
Lampard's growing effect on the club is apparent, something noted by Pablo Zabaleta and he is of course due to join New York City FC in January for the start of pre-season training ahead of their inaugral MLS season which begins in mid-March. Previous reports though have suggested this could be delayed until February, benefiting City during the period in which Yaya Toure is expected to away at the African Cup of Nations.
It has though been suggested by Mark Ogden in The Telegraph that there is the additional possibility that Lampard could remain at City until the end of the current Premier League season:
Lampard's performances for City, however, have led to the prospect of the former Chelsea and England midfielder extending his loan until the end of the Premier League season due to a clause in his contract allowing City to keep the 36-year-old at the club for a further six months.
Ogden writes that this may depend upon City's impending Champions League fate, with a group stage exit leading to a less congested fixture list after the December and January period of games:
With Yaya Touré due to be absent for up to five weeks in January and February as a result of Africa Cup of Nations commitments with Ivory Coast, Lampard's presence as cover during that period is assured.
But if City are eliminated from the Champions League with a defeat in Rome next Wednesday - a defeat would also end City's hopes of a Europa League place - the club's early exit from the Capital One Cup would see Pellegrini's squad competing in just the FA Cup and Premier League in the second half of the season.
This could of course be good news from a City perspective given the increasing influence of Lampard; far more than was anticipated by the majority when his signing was announced. And whilst the midfield area is far from barren his presence would be an important factor to a side chasing down a title - especially one with the added workload of European football.
The issue is a delicate one of course. Lampard was the marquee signing for the new New York franchise and if his City stay is increased beyond the month or so that would not see him miss any MLS games this would clearly appear that all parties are reneging on their initial agreement. Throw into the mix the tie-in between City and New York City FC and the waters are muddied further.
Lampard will be mindful of this, something the New York Times noted in this article, and it is perhaps the case that he surprised himself how well the move to City has gone. With this in mind, as torn as he may be to his obligations in the US, it is difficult to think he would not want to stick around until mid to late May for the conclusion of the English season should the opportunity arise.