By DAN KARELL
New York City FC made a big splash when they hired Jason Kreis to be their first head coach, and they did the same on Monday when they announced their first player signing.
After days of reports and rumors out of Spain, NYC FC completed the signing of Spanish international forward David Villa on a three-year contract. The 32-year-old Villa is a veteran of La Liga, having played with Sporting Gijon, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid in addition to starring with the Spanish National Team.
Villa will wear the No. 7 shirt in New York that he’s worn throughout most of his career. While the team didn’t announce it, it’s a safe bet that Villa will join NYC FC as a Designated Player.
“Throughout my career I’ve always tried to keep pushing myself to achieve new targets and this represents another important goal for me,” Villa said in a statement. “I want to try and help MLS continue to grow, through playing, working hard, scoring goals and at the same time try to make New York City FC become the best team in the league.
“It’s a real honor that the people who have formed the club have focused their attention on me. I’m keen to do the best I can, take on board that extra responsibility and prove my worth by repaying the confidence they have shown in me.”
Villa is coming off an incredible dream season with Atletico Madrid, helping lead the club to their first La Liga title in 18 years and taking the club all the way to the UEFA Champions League final.
“David Villa is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished soccer players and best strikers in the world,” Kreis said in the statement. “I couldn’t be happier that we have acquired such an amazing talent as our first-ever signing. David will be a shining example of what it will mean to be a New York City player and a leader for us on and off the field.
“He is hard working, he is a natural competitor, he is a winner at heart, and he is a terrific man. David has checked every box for what we were looking for in our first signing and it is a great day to be a member of this growing family of a club.”
Villa announced on Sunday that he was leaving Atletico Madrid and photographs emerged from England showing Villa at Manchester City’s training complex, reportedly undergoing tests prior to signing with partnered club NYC FC. Villa moved to Atletico Madrid last summer in a deal that included a 50 percent sell-on fee for Barcelona if Villa moved to another club.
“This is a historic and exciting moment for the City family and the building of New York City Football Club,” Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano said. “I know David really well; he is one of the best footballers in the world, a true winner and in an outstanding moment of his career. I’m sure New Yorkers will enjoy watching him play for their city.”
Villa is currently in Spain’s final World Cup squad and will be heading to Brazil after a brief stay in the U.S. for pre-World Cup training.