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David Villa to play with Melbourne City

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David Villa's parallel ambitions

Spanish star striker David Villa is coming to Melbourne City, but first he signed up to City Football Group sister club, New York City, with ambitions to grow the game "on another continent".

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The Melbourne City era will begin with a new name, badge and colours – plus Spain's all-time greatest goalscorer leading their forward line after David Villa signed on for a 10-game stint as a guest player.

Villa is potentially the first of many big-name stars to join Melbourne City, the newly rebranded Melbourne Heart. City will begin their existence with a World Cup winner among the ranks, wearing a white and sky blue kit bearing a new logo incorporating the flag of the city, with the red and white stripes of Melbourne Heart living on in the away strip.

Melbourne City originally wanted to play in the sky blue colours of its parent club Manchester City, but after complaints from Sydney FC, the Victorian club's home kit will be predominantly white, with only a small sky blue strip.

City slicker: Spain’s World Cup winner David Villa signs on.

City slicker: Spain’s World Cup winner David Villa signs on.

But it is the signing of Villa, who rivals Alessandro del Piero as the best player ever to play in Australia, that has captured the imagination of the public. City will now turn their attention to filling the foreign marquee position and two other visa-player spots and will benefit from a salary cap loop-hole in their hunt.

Villa, 32, will play his next club match in Australia despite signing a three-year-deal with Manchester City's other franchise, New York City FC, whose Major League Soccer debut doesn't begin until March 2015.

The former Atletico Madrid striker could become the first of many players owned by Manchester or New York to join Melbourne on loan, with the Football Federation of Australia confirming a loan payment rule will be changed this season.

Designs on the title: Melbourne City’s new home and away kits.

Designs on the title: Melbourne City’s new home and away kits.

Under A-League regulations, only the portion paid directly by Melbourne City for on-loan players will count towards the salary cap, irrespective of the net wage paid by the owning club. While guest players are excluded from the A-League club's salary cap, Villa may set the precedent for Melbourne's next three foreign player signings, after club sources confirmed they will use their owners' 32 active talent scouts in their pursuit of a new marquee and two other visa players.

In a statement of their intent, former marquee and fan favourite Orlando Engelaar is a possibility to return to the club under the salary cap, but is now considered an outside chance of resigning, given the extensive resources at Melbourne City's disposal.

After unveiling their new kit, a replica of Manchester City's third strip, Melbourne City do not expect to announce a marquee signing for some time, but it's understood that they will fill all three visa-player positions with more talent after signing a player who just two weeks ago played in a UEFA Champions League final.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

Villa will arrive in Melbourne shortly after his World Cup duties with Spain and vowed to perform to his best despite playing in the A-League.

"It's very good for me in every sense," Villa said. "From a football point of view, it's the opportunity to play in a new league in a different country, and, of course, it will be ideal for me to get some competitive football in the period before the MLS season gets underway ... I'll be giving everything for the team, just like I have with every club I've played for."

Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of the City Football Group, said: "The sports fans of Melbourne can look forward to seeing one of the best players in world football representing their city when David brings his rare talents to AAMI Park later this year."

5 comments so far

  • I bet they didn't tell David that he'll playing in front of 4,000 people at home games.

    Commenter
    dds154
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 4:54PM
    • A guest player?? .... Call it another junket.
      For heavens sake its little wonder we are not taken seriously in Australia. .
      Get players who are committed from go to whoa.
      The seduction of a name has never worked here.
      You could name a dozen examples across the league.

      Commenter
      Zisky
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 6:24PM
      • This is an amazing coup for Australian football. I was at the Barca v Athletico match that decided the La Liga a couple of weeks ago and this guy is a superstar. When I first saw the article I thought - it must be a different David Villa, but this is the guy who played for Barcelona and then Athletico Madrid and for Spain in the World Cup. I can't believe it.

        Commenter
        SF
        Date and time
        June 05, 2014, 8:05PM
        • This is an absolutely amazing coul for the A-League. One of the very best strikers in the world is coming to the A-League. This is brilliant for the league in Australia.

          With players like Lampard also heading to New York, it is entirely feasible that we may see him lining up for Melbourne as well, together with players of similar standing and calibre.

          To think that in years to come my sons will be able to tell their own that they have seen players like Villa, Del Piero, Heskey, Kewell and Shinji Ono amongst others play week in week out in Australia is just mind-boggling.

          Commenter
          Danpasar
          Location
          NSW
          Date and time
          June 05, 2014, 10:07PM
          • What an awesome catch for Melbourne City! Even if it is for just ten games. He'll pack the stands. ¡Olé!

            Commenter
            Jezza
            Location
            Surry Hills
            Date and time
            June 06, 2014, 7:04AM

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