New York City FC’s captain and first-ever signing is moving on.
NYCFC announced Wednesday that forward David Villa will not return to the club for the 2019 season, putting a cap to his four-year tenure in the Bronx.
Villa is not expected to retire from the professional soccer and will announce his upcoming move in the coming days, according to a statement released by the team.
“I can only say thank you, thank you to everybody,” Villa said in a statement on NYCFC.com.
“My experience here was amazing. It gave me everything as a soccer player, as a person, as a family man. I’ll always remember this experience with love. My heart is here and I’m an NYCFC supporter forever.”
Villa, who will turn 37 on Monday, was the first player signed by NYCFC in June 2014 after a standout career with the Spanish national team and with several La Liga clubs. He had a quick stint on loan with Melbourne City FC of Australia’s A-League before joining the club for its inaugural 2015 campaign.
He scored the first-ever home goal in the 19th minute in the Blues’ Yankee Stadium debut against the New England Revolution in March 2015. His most memorable goal came on the road at Philadelphia, where he chipped Andre Blake for a 50-plus yard score.
Villa’s 23-goal 2016 campaign netted the captain that year’s MLS Most Valuable Player award. He followed that with a 24-goal 2017 campaign.
His NYCFC tenure ends with 77 goals scored (20th in MLS history) and 26 assists after having helped the club to the Eastern conference semifinals in each of the last three seasons. His 0.71 goals per 90 minutes ranks highest among the top 25 players in total goals.
“I truly believe that David will be remembered as one of the best players to ever play in MLS,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement.