David Villa, Japanese J1 League, Leagues, Major League Soccer, New York City FC, Story, Transfers, Vissel Kobe
Steve Nicol reflects on the impact David Villa has had on Major League Soccer after announcing his departure from NYCFC after four seasons.
David Villa announces he is ready for another challenge as he bids farewell to New York City FC.

David Villa has revealed that he will be joining up with former Spain teammate Andres Iniesta in Japan at Vissel Kobe, after leaving New York City FC.

Villa, 36, departs MLS after scoring 80 goals in 124  appearances for NYCFC. He paid tribute to everyone associated with the franchise, as well as to the team’s fans in a video on YouTube last week as he said his goodbyes.

The forward spent four seasons with the club as its first captain but has now opted for a new challenge in Japan, where Iniesta has been playing since May.

“In my years as a professional footballer, I have had to make many important decisions. For an athlete, the ones made off the field are the hardest, and I find myself in another one of those moments now,” Villa said.

“Throughout my career, I have always listened to my body, people around me, and my instinct most of all.

“In those moments of doubt, I hope that a sign, a detail or something gives me clarity. A new challenge awaits, Asia.”

Villa, Spain’s all-time top scorer with 59 goals, won the European Championship and World Cup together with Iniesta, while they also picked up two La Liga titles as well as the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup at Barcelona.

Kobe, who signed Iniesta in May, are owned by Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant that is also Barcelona’s shirt sponsor. The club have endured a difficult season and currently sit in mid-table.

Villa becomes the third World Cup winner at Kobe with former Germany international Lukas Podolski also at the club.

Information from John Duerden was used in this report.

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