Following their second half performance in the 2018 season, there is little doubt in my mind that the New York City FC team that takes the field in 2019 will be quite different than the one we saw this year. We already know that Alexander Ring, Sean Johnson, and Alexander Callens will be with the club after signing “multi-year” deals last month. But apart from that, NYCFC’s 2019 roster is anyone’s guess.
Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounds David Villa, the club’s first-ever signing, team captain, and all-time leading goalscorer. NYCFC without Villa is a completely alien concept and probably the last thing any true City fan would like to envision. However, the Spanish legend is currently out of contract with the Bronx Blues. And latest reports don’t seem encouraging as it pertains to his future in the five boroughs.
According to Sport — a sports magazine based in Barcelona — Villa wishes to play professional football for at least one more year. But, according to Sport, NYCFC does not fancy keeping him.
The pros of keeping El Guaje are quite obvious. Villa is a natural leader and everyone who’s ever spent time with NYCFC seems to appreciate him and his aura. Add in the fact that he is as clinical a goalscorer MLS as a whole has ever seen, and bringing in Villa for at least one more year seems to sell itself.
However, there are some cons as well.
Villa isn’t getting any younger — the Spaniard is only a few weeks away from his 37th birthday. We’ve seen firsthand with Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo what can happen to an aging footballer. And despite his productivity, Villa is starting to experience that too, missing prolonged stints of 2018 due to injury.
Then, there’s Villa’s status as a Designated Player.
With each MLS team being given only three DP slots to fill — which may even become two if some recent reports are to be believed — NYCFC cannot afford to take risks when it comes to players they deem to be DP-worthy. Paying a 37-year-old striker in excess of $5 million could be seen as financially irresponsible and a huge risk. Of course, this could be mitigated should the club convince Villa to take a pay cut. But with El Guaje having 77 goals in 117 matches for the Bronx Blues, do they really have any kind of leverage to justify such a move? Odds are, probably not.
Thus far, neither the club or Villa have acknowledged any talks between the two. And until word is given from the club or the player, we can only speculate.
Is Villa worth keeping? Sure. But is he currently worth $5 million and a DP slot? Ehhh....