NEW YORK — 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 this 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.
Reyna wouldn't say whether NYCFC is interested in signing English midfielder Frank Lampard, who has been with Chelsea since the 2001-02 season.