- POSTED: 05 Jun 2014 15:45
Spanish World Cup winner David Villa will play a guest stint at newly-branded Melbourne City for Australia's A-League next season, the club said on Thursday.
MELBOURNE: Spanish World Cup winner David Villa will play a guest stint at newly-branded Melbourne City for Australia's A-League next season, the club said on Thursday.
Villa, unveiled by Major League Soccer club New York City as its inaugural player this week, will take the field for Melbourne between October and December this year prior to the start of the American season.
The 32-year-old, who joined New York after helping Atletico Madrid win the Spanish league title, is his country's all-time top scorer with 56 goals and will play for the world champions at his third World Cup in Brazil this month.
Villa, who will play against the Socceroos in Group B at the World Cup, said he was excited about playing club football in Australia.
"It's very good for me in every sense," he said in a statement.
"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.
"I'm sure that playing for Melbourne City FC will be a marvellous experience. I'll be giving everything for the team, just like I have with every club I've played for."
It is the first major signing announced by Melbourne City since they were bought by English Premier League giants Manchester City earlier this year.
"We are very proud to have David Villa as part of the City family and are thrilled to announce he will play for Melbourne City FC in the A-League this (coming) season," said Ferran Soriano, chief executive of the City Football Group.
"The sports fans of Melbourne can look forward to seeing one of the best players in world football representing their city when David brings his rare talents to AAMI Park later this year."
The only comparable big-name signing in the A-League's history was Italian great Alessandro Del Piero, who spent two seasons with Sydney FC.
Villa has won three La Liga titles, twice with Barcelona and this year with Atletico Madrid.
Dutch head coach John van't Schip said Villa would be an "incredible asset" to his Melbourne squad even if for only part of the 2014-15 campaign.
"David Villa is still at the peak of his game... 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."
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said Villa's arrival would help further project the A-League following Del Piero's stint.
"The presence of some of the world's finest footballers in our competition, including a player like David coming straight from the World Cup, is an attractive prospect for spectators that further enhances the value of our game," he said.
As part of Manchester City's takeover, the former Melbourne Heart club was renamed Melbourne City.