38-year-old Frank Lampard could be set for a sensational return to Chelsea after the former England midfielder confirmed his departure from New York City.
The 38-year-old has spent two years in MLS but will leave the club to begin the next chapter of his career.
Lampard is yet to decide whether to carry on playing but if he does hang up his boots, Chelsea will open the door for him to return to the club.
The West London club is keen on avoiding a scenario where one of their previous players takes a lead role at a rival club, similar to the way Arsenal hero Patrick Vieira — now head coach of New York City — took a technical role with Manchester City.
In confirming his departure, Lampard said: “As my time at New York City comes to an end, I would like to thank so many people for the kindness and support that they have shown me over the last two years.
“My team-mates have been a pleasure to play alongside. The amazing fans have given me incredible support and backing.
“I have very much enjoyed my time and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for such a great club and in such an incredible city.”
It is understood Vieira took the decision not to extend Lampard’s contract following New York City’s exit from the MLS play-offs against Toronto last week at the quarter-final stage. In two seasons at the club the midfielder scored 15 goals in 29 games.
Vieira paid tribute to Lampard’s impact, saying: “Everybody talks about Frank’s goal-scoring record but I can tell you, after a year of working with him, he brings so much more to a team than just goals.
“What Frank has brought to the locker room is something just as important. His experience, his elite mentality and his mentorship of our younger members have helped us greatly this year.”