David Villa of Spain has signed a three-year contract with New York City FC, becoming the first player on the expansion Major League Soccer team that starts play next season at Yankee Stadium.
"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 a statement Monday. "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."
NYCFC starts play in March, and the team plans to loan him to an unspecified club to keep him in shape until training starts in the third week of January. Claudio Reyna, the team's director of football, said loaning Villa to NYCFC parent Manchester City was not an option.
The 32-year-old forward helped Spain win the 2008 European Championship and the 2010 World Cup. He is a member of his country's roster for next month's tournament.
He missed the 2012 Euros, which Spain also won, after breaking his left leg while playing for Barcelona in the Club World Cup. He holds Spain's record with 56 international goals.
MLS said Villa was acquired on a free transfer from Spanish league champion Atletico Madrid, where he scored 15 goals in 47 games in all competitions last season.
He previously played for Sporting Gijon (2001-03), Zaragoza (2003-05), Valencia (2005-10) and Barcelona (2010-13). He helped Barcelona win the 2011 Champions League title.
NYCFC mum on Frank Lampard
Reyna wouldn't say whether NYCFC is interested in signing English midfielder Frank Lampard, who has been with Chelsea since the 2001-02 season.
Lampard is set to head to the World Cup without a club after announcing Monday that he is leaving Chelsea.
The 35-year-old Lampard has been at Chelsea for 13 years and is the club's all-time leading scorer but has not agreed to a new deal with the Premier League team. Lampard is currently with England in Miami for two World Cup warm-up matches before traveling to Brazil on Saturday.
"When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success," Lampard said. "This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity."
Lampard did not say where he expects to play next season, but has long been linked with a move to Major League Soccer in the United States.
Lampard, who moved across London from West Ham in 2001, leaves Stamford Bridge with 211 goals in 648 appearances. He won the Premier League three times, the Champions League and Europa League once each, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
"The club will move forward, and as a Chelsea man I have no doubt that with the quality of the players that are there, they will continue with the success that we have all enjoyed over the past seasons, Lampard said.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was singled out for praise, with Lampard calling the Russian tycoon "the man who saved our club and took us all to new levels" following his 2003 takeover.
"His desire to push the club to the top of the football world has rubbed off on everyone," Lampard said.