The 2015 MLS expansion club on Monday announced Spain's all-time leading scorer, David Villa, as the organization's first player. The 32-year-old, who wlll represent the defending World Cup champions in Brazil this month, joins NYCFC on a three-year deal on a free transfer from La Liga side Atletico Madrid. He will be a Designated Player.
“David Villa is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished soccer players and best strikers in the world,” NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis said in a club 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 brings a decorated resume to his new club: a World Cup title (2010), a European Championship title (2008), three La Liga titles (2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14) and a UEFA Champions League (2010-11).
“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 the NYCFC 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.”
- PHOTO GALLERY: David Villa signs with NYCFC
Nicknamed "El Guaje" ("The Kid"), Villa worked his way up the ladder in Spain's La Liga, beginning with the likes of Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza before making the jump to Valencia at age 23 in 2005, when he experienced a breakthrough as one of Spain's top scorers and a bona fide star.
In his five seasons at Valencia, where Villa scored more than 100 goals, he also became a Spain national team regular and earned call-ups to the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads. In South African in 2010, he finished as co-leading scorer just weeks before officially joining giants FC Barcelona.
Villa helped Barcelona win the UEFA Champions League in his first season, but a broken leg in the following campaign kept him off the field long-term. When he returned for the 2012-13 season under a new head coach, he struggled to reclaim his starting spot but still logged 16 goals.
Last summer, Barcelona accepted a transfer offer from Atletico Madrid, and Villa joined the Colchoneros, helping them unexpectedly claim their first La Liga title since 1996. The team also reached the final of the UEFA Champions League in Lisbon, where Villa was one of the top players in the match as Atletico fell to crosstown rivals Real Madrid.
- INFOGRAPHIC: David Villa's career... so far
That form earned him a call-up in Vicente del Bosque's final 23-man roster for Brazil 2014, Villa's third World Cup.
Spain are currently in training camp before their first match on June 13, and Villa will join the side when they arrive late Monday night in Washington, D.C. for a week-long camp ahead of a friendly match at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, against El Salvador (Saturday, June 7). It will mark Villa's first match for Spain as a New York City FC player.