David Villa departs New York City FC, could close career in Japan
The biggest offseason question for New York City FC has been answered, and it’s not a good one for the club’s fans.
David Villa is departing NYCFC after four years, the club announced Wednesday. He will announce his next stop in the coming days, though reports are circulating that it will be Japan.
Villa was the first player ever signed by NYCFC on June 2, 2014 ahead of the club’s inaugural season. Wearing the captain’s armband, the Spanish legend scored 80 goals in 124 appearances over the course of four seasons.
“David has been an incredible ambassador and captain to this club since the moment we signed him,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement. “His professionalism and leadership helped us through the challenges that a new team faces when they come into the league. He’s represented New York City FC tremendously both on and off the pitch and has been a real leader for this football club.”
Villa, who turns 37 next week, originally signed a three-year Designated Player contract and then re-upped for an additional year late in the 2017 season.
After back-to-back seasons of 20-plus goals, Villa, who was named the 2016 MLS MVP, was limited to 14 goals and five assists in 23 appearances during the regular season.
Villa, who declined to speak about his future plans multiple times during the season and didn’t speak to media following NYCFC’s playoff ouster to Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semifinals, released the following statement through the club.
“I can only say thank you, thank you to everybody,” Villa said in a statement released by the club. “First, to City Football Group that gave me the opportunity to come here. To NYCFC and MLS for accepting me. To everybody at the Club who helped me day-by-day.
“Thank you to the people in the offices, the people working with the team and the coaches and staff. Thank you to my teammates – without them it would have been impossible to be successful. Thank you to the people working in the media that always gave me the respect and the love.
“Obviously, our fans. I remember the first day I showed the jersey and the supporters were there. I would have liked to give the supporters the MLS Cup, but I don’t have any doubts that in the next years the Club will get it for sure.
“My experience here was amazing. It gave me everything as a soccer player, as a person, and as a family man. I’ll always remember this experience with love. My heart is here and I’m an NYCFC supporter forever.”