David Villa is a club legend and the first player that anyone thinks of when they hear the words “New York City FC.” Unfortunately, his prolific tenure with the Bronx Blues may be coming to an end once the season comes to a close.
Sources out of Spain revealed this week that Villa’s future with NYCFC is very much uncertain, as Villa contemplates retiring at the end of the season. To make things even more interesting, club management allegedly has no plans to re-sign the club icon to a new contract if he decides to keep playing.
It’s shocking news for City supporters everywhere, but you can’t help but wonder: Hypothetically speaking, would the club do the wrong thing if they elect not to re-sign the Spaniard to a new contract? It’s a hard question to answer considering all Villa has done to put NYCFC on the map.
The first-ever signing by the club, it’d be an understatement to say that Villa’s left his mark on MLS and the city of New York in his short time stateside. In just three seasons, the club talisman earned an MLS MVP Award and he set a league record by becoming the first player in MLS history to record back-to-back 20-goal campaigns. And those are just a couple of the many highlights of his career with NYCFC.
While his performance in the past has been the stuff of legend, NYCFC seems to be focusing on the David Villa they’re seeing this season. According to ESPN, the club’s reluctance to extend Villa seems to be rooted in frustration with his extended injury spell this season, which is understandable.
To play Devil’s advocate, though, you could argue this season is an outlier for Villa. After all, he was the model of consistency over his first three seasons, missing only nine of the 102 regular season matches the club played over that period of time. Yet, as management has seemingly noticed, age looks like it’s starting to play a factor.
36-years old isn’t necessarily old-man status for some professional athletes in the American Big Four, but Villa can easily be considered ancient by soccer’s standards. A lot of soccer players start their careers earlier than athletes in other sports and the Spanish striker is no exception.
Villa played his first professional match at the ripe-old age of 18-years-old and has appeared in at least 28 matches in all but one of his 16 professional seasons. Needless to say, that wear and tear is rightfully a cause for concern.
Could Villa still be able to contribute as he goes into his late 30’s? Absolutely. His uncanny ability to score goals is an inherent trait that isn’t dictated by fitness and it could carve him out a super-sub role in late-game situations. However, unless he’s willing to take a huge pay cut, paying the Spaniard designated player money he’ll demand for a limited role isn’t a rational move for NYCFC.
It would pain supporters to see Villa not finish his career on his own terms (this writer included), but soccer is a business at the end of the day. Not renewing El Capitan’s contract makes sense from all perspectives and would allow NYCFC to use a DP slot on a player who is much younger and can make an impact every day.
It’s a tough pill to swallow and there’s no replacing a player of Villa’s caliber, but the benefits of not re-signing him — if he decides to continue playing — outweigh any loyalty the club could show if they want to field the best roster they can.