Villa to play 10 matches in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer David Villa will play a 10-match guest stint in the A-League with the rebranded Melbourne City.
Villa, a member of Spain’s World Cup team in Brazil, left Spanish league champions Atletico Madrid and will play in New York City’s inaugural MLS campaign beginning in March next year.
To build match fitness, Villa will be loaned to sister club Melbourne City, which changed its name from Melbourne Heart after being bought by English Premier League champion Manchester City this year.
The A-League season begins in October.
“It’s very good for me in every sense,” Villa said in a statement released by Melbourne City on Thursday. “From a football point of view it’s the opportunity to play in a new league in a different country, and of course it will be ideal for me to get some competitive football in the period before the MLS season gets under way.
“What I’ve always done throughout my career is do the best I possibly can. I’ll be giving everything for the team, just like I have with every club I’ve played for.”
Villa has scored 56 goals in 94 matches since making his first appearance for Spain in 2005.
City’s head coach John van’t Schip said Villa was still “at the peak of his game.”
“He is playing in his third World Cup in Brazil, has just won the Spanish league and is an instinctive and gifted striker who will contribute significantly to Melbourne City FC,” van’t Schip said. “We are confident David will be an incredible asset to the playing group and his experiences in Europe and for his country will help our players not only on the pitch, but in training as well.”
The 32-year-old Villa scored 15 goals in 47 games for Atletico Madrid this season, with his last match for the club being the Champions League final loss to cross-town rival Real Madrid.
Australia media were comparing the 10-match stint as the biggest coup for the A-League since Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero signed with Sydney FC on a two-year contract.
Del Piero scored 24 goals for Sydney and was the club’s leading scorer in both seasons he played. He left the team as a player at the end of this season, but says he might remain with the club in an off-field capacity.