The recent confirmation of David Villa’s stunning move to MLS expansion side New York City FC is a triumph for both the new side and also Major League Soccer itself.
In 2007, David Beckham turned the football world upside down when he announced that he was moving to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid at the relatively tender age of 32.
This was a move that broke new ground, a global superstar, arguably still in his prime, was heading to the home of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, where soccer – despite being the global game – took a back seat.
Despite an initially fractious relationship with the fans, Beckham’s stateside experience was a success not just for himself but for the MLS. It was his arrival that really got the USA interested in soccer, and that interest is still steadily growing.
David Villa, a goal scorer feared and respected all over the world, at the age of 32 and still in his prime, is coming to ply his trade in MLS.
The reaction of the press was muted by comparison to Beckham’s move, and the reason for that is that MLS is now seen as a respectable place to play football. Since Beckham’s arrival, the likes of Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe have also come to the league.
There are few suggestions that Villa is ‘going for the money’, as so many people said about Beckham’s move across the Atlantic. Of course, money will still be a factor in the move, but that is unlikely to be his main motivation given his age and desire to continue to play football at a high level.
Instead, he is surely going there to win trophies and propel the league to even greater heights.
NYCFC will benefit hugely from the signing of Villa as it will attract other star names; England’s Frank Lampard has already held talks with the club hierarchy after confirming that he will be leaving Chelsea after 13 years at Stamford Bridge.
As for New York City’s hope of winning the MLS Cup in their first season, they certainly won’t be harmed with the likes of David Villa and Lampard in their side.
The MLS itself will also be benefited hugely by the attraction of another superstar of world football.
Indeed, the aim of becoming one of the top leagues in the world by 2022 is a genuine possibility if players such as Villa continue to choose the USA as the place to play their football.
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