The soccer community on the east coast woke up to the announcement on YouTube.
David Villa’s new home is the top-flight Japanese team, Vissel Kobe.
“The moment has come,” Villa says in his video announcement. “It’s decided. I have a new destination. A great challenge awaits. Asia. New trips. New country. New culture. New teammates. Hello Japan. Hello Vissel Kobe.”
On Wednesday, NYCFC announced Villa would depart after four years as the face of the expansion franchise. He scored 77 goals in 109 regular season matches for the Cityzens.
Villa arrived in the Bronx on a free loan from Atletico Madrid after scoring 13 goals in his final season to assist in the club’s first La Liga title in 17 seasons.
Villa will rejoin one of his former Barcelona teammates, Andres Iniesta. The duo won two La Liga titles together, plus the Champions League with Barca. Villa (Spain’s all-time leading scorer with 59 goals) and Iniesta also combined to help La Roja to a World Cup title and European Championship.
The other notable new mate is the former German international and captain of Kobe, forward Lukas Podolski.
In its own statement, Vissel Kobe said adding Villa to the squad is “another step towards the club’s goal of becoming the number one club in Asia.”
In the 22-year existence of the club, Kobe have never won the J-League title with a high mark of ninth in the table twice – 2011 and 2017.