David Villa to Leave NYCFC, Reportedly Will Finish Career in Japan

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

New York City FC forward David Villa walks out before an MLS playoff soccer match against Atlanta United, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in New York. Atlanta United won 1-0. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

David Villa is leaving New York City FC with rumours of a possible switch to Japan's J1 League building.

The 36-year-old former Valencia, Barcelona and Spain striker revealed his decision during an interview with the Designated Player YouTube channel, a video he relayed on his official Twitter account:

David Villa @Guaje7Villa

My decision. My future. https://t.co/sjMbYqQap7

While Villa will not continue with the Major League Soccer side, he won't be retiring. The Spaniard said "my mind and my body need another challenge," while confirming his intention to play for "at least another year."

Villa didn't confirm his next destination, but Pablo Maurer of The Athletic suggested where Villa's future may lie:

Pablo Maurer @MLSist

Some news: #NYCFC are set to announce the departure of David Villa today. I'm unable to get any firm confirmation on this, but I've heard a lot of chatter over the past few days that he's headed to Japan for one last year. #MLS

Villa thanked the fans in New York, as well as City Football Group, the club's ownership body which also controls Premier League champions Manchester City.

The MLS club responded with a video tribute of its own to celebrate the player known as "El Guaje" and his productive spell:

New York City FC @NYCFC

7⃣⚽️🗽 #VillaForever https://t.co/4ai0dXPr9c

Calling it the "perfect time" to move on, Villa also indicated he will have the answer on where he will move to "in the next few days."

If he does opt to move to Japan, Villa would have the chance to see former Barca team-mate Andres Iniesta. The latter left the Camp Nou back in May to sign for Vissel Kobe, the same club where ex-Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski also plies his trade.

Podolski and Iniesta aren't the only big names from the upper echelons of European football to have opted for life in Japan. Fernando Torres, often one half of a deadly double act with Villa for Spain, has been playing for Sagan Tosu since leaving Atletico Madrid back in July.

Some already believe Villa and Torres will be competing together again soon:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

David Villa joining Torres and Iniesta in Japan.

Villa calling time on his career in New York brings to an end a prolific period during which he earned plaudits for his commitment in a league often unfairly seen as merely a comfortable landing spot for ageing stars:

roger bennett @rogbennett

David Villa leaves as one of greatest signings in MLS history. Not just 80 goals in 124 games. But his total competitive approach. Once saw him live and die with every kick in a Pen Shoot out. He'd won Champs League and World Cup, but in that moment US Cup meant EVERYTHING to him https://t.co/HSlAi3Q0SH

The notion was rebuked by Villa's form as he helped NYCFC win the MLS Cup.

If he does take the same desire and enduring talent to Japan, Villa will go a long way to further raising the profiler and standard of a burgeoning league doing wonders for the sport in Asia.