LA Galaxy have opened talks with Frank Lampard as they step up their attempts to prise him away from Chelsea to Major League Soccer, sources have learned.
The American club hope to put together a package that can convince Lampard to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and move to the west coast in the summer.
The midfielder will leave Chelsea at the end of the season after being formally told on New YearÔÇÖs Eve that he will not get a new contract from the European champions.
As revealed by sources at the start of the month, there is firm interest in Lampard from a string of Premier League clubs, most notably Manchester United and Arsenal. The England midfielder has already rejected a three-year offer from Everton.
However, it is understood that the 34-year-oldÔÇÖs current stance is that he would prefer a move to MLS rather than join another English club, with LA Galaxy his most likely destination.
There has also been strong interest in the Blues midfielder from clubs in Serie A but the Chelsea No.8 has reservations about moving to Italy.
Lampard will be one of the most sought-after free agents in the world this summer, when his 12-year association with Chelsea will come to an end.
He was told by the west London club that he will not be offered an extension to his current ┬ú150,000-a-week deal, even on reduced terms.
This has prompted a stampede of interest in the player, who has demonstrated his value with a number of goals since returning to the team last month following an extended spell out injured and has now scored 11 times for club and country this season.
LampardÔÇÖs colleague John Terry broke ranks earlier this month to question ChelseaÔÇÖs stance on the failure to award the long-serving midfielder a new contract.
However, senior Stamford Bridge officials have privately made it clear there will be no change in their position.
Lampard is free to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club from this month, and is open to a move to the States for personal as well as professional reasons.
Each MLS club can sign a maximum of three ÔÇÿdesignatedÔÇÖ players each season, whose wages are not included in the teamÔÇÖs annual salary cap.
In an interview this week, LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena declined to comment on Lampard but admitted the club are in the market for a marquee midfielder.
ÔÇ£We need to get another player there and weÔÇÖre working on it, as well, and thereÔÇÖs a chance weÔÇÖll get a designated player that can slip into midfield,ÔÇØ said Arena.