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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Spain's Villa signs for MLS team New York City FC

Sports Shorts: Spain's Villa signs for MLS team New York City FC

Last updated on: June 02, 2014 21:16 IST

Sports Shorts: Spain's Villa signs for MLS team New York City FC

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Spanish World Cup striker David Villa has signed for New York City FC on a three-year deal, the Major League Soccer team said on Monday.

Villa, who helped Atletico Madrid win last season's Spanish league title, will join the new club who will begin playing in the MLS in 2015.

The deal is arguably the biggest signing made by an MLS team since David Beckham joined L.A. Galaxy with the 32-year-old Villa a current world champion.

Villa is the first player signed by NYCFC, who are jointly owned by English Premier League club ManchesterCity and baseball's New York Yankees.

"This is a historic and exciting moment for the City family and the building of New York City Football Club,” said club chief executive Ferran Soriano.

"I know David really well; he is one of the best footballers in the world, a true winner and in an outstanding moment of his career. I’m sure New Yorkers will enjoy watching him play for their city," he said.

Villa was part of the hugely successful Barcelona team under Pep Guardiola and he will wear the number seven shirt he graced at the Nou Camp.

"I want to try and help MLS continue to grow, through playing, working hard, scoring goals and at the same time try to make New York City FC become the best team in the league.

"It's a real honour that the people who have formed the club have focused their attention on me. I'm keen to do the best I can, take on board that extra responsibility and prove my worth by repaying the confidence they have shown in me," he added.

Villa joins another former Barcelona player in the New York area - former France international Thierry Henry plays for the New York Red Bulls, who are based in Harrison, New Jersey.

But while Henry's career in Europe was already waning by the team he moved to MLS, Villa moves to the States still close to his prime - he is currently preparing for the World Cup in Brazil as part of Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad.

Villa emerged in La Liga with Sporting Gijon before moving to Real Zaragoza and then Valencia, where he made his name with 32 goals in 73 appearances.

The forward moved to Barcelona in May of 2010 for a reported fee of 40 million euros and he won two Spanish league titles and the Champions League in 2010-11.

He joined Atletico last season and helped the team to the league title and the final of the Champions League where they lost to Real Madrid.

"David Villa is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished soccer players and best strikers in the world,” said NYC FC head coach Jason Kreis.

"I couldn't be happier that we have acquired such an amazing talent as our first-ever signing. David will be a shining example of what it will mean to be a New York City player and a leader for us on and off the field.

"He is hard working, he is a natural competitor, he is a winner at heart, and he is a terrific man. David has checked every box for what we were looking for in our first signing."

The new club has yet to secure their own stadium and will play their first season at Yankee Stadium.

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Image: David Villa
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Liverpool sign striker Lambert from Southampton

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Liverpool have confirmed the transfer of striker Rickie Lambert from Southampton, the Premier League club announced on Monday.

The 32-year-old, currently with the England team in Miami preparing for the World Cup, scored 13 league goals for the Saints last term as the south coast side ended their campaign with a club-record 56 points.

"I can't believe it. I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago -- and I haven't stopped loving it since," Lambert said on the club website (www.liverpoolfc.com).

"I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn't think the chance would come."

No transfer fee was stated but British media had reported Lambert, a boyhood Liverpool fan who spent his youth career at the club, was expected to cost around four million pounds ($6.71 million).

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Image: Rickie Lambert after his Liverpool signing on Monday
Photographs: Liverpool FC/Facebook

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Rule change could favour African Olympic bid: IOC

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African countries stand a higher chance of staging future Olympic Games if proposed changes to bidding procedures are adopted by the ruling body, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said.

Bach, who made a whistle-stop tour on Sunday of three African countries -- South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia -- after attending the African Youth Games in Gaberone, Botswana, said his wish was to see the continent stage the world's most prestigious sports competition.

"Africa has produced excellent athletes and yet has not staged the Olympic games. We (at the IOC) would be happy to see a feasibly bid from the continent," Bach told Reuters in Eldoret, a city famed for producing world class runners some 350 kilometres north west of Kenyan capital Nairobi where he visited fellow IOC member and Kenyan athletics great Kipchoge Keino.

"As you know, since my election as IOC president, we are already discussing changes to bidding procedure under the framework of Olympic Agenda 2020 where we want to open doors to more cities and more countries to bid to organise the Games," Bach said.

He did not give specifics of the changes to bidding and organisation of the games, but there have been murmurs of discontent, especially from the African countries, over the idea of staging some 28 disciplines in a single city as opposed to FIFA World Cup, which takes place across several cities of one country.

Sometimes, the world's most watched football competition has been co-hosted by two countries.

Bach paid tribute to Botswana for staging a successful competition for the youth and especially for the attendance of all African nations, including the recently-independent and strife-torn South Sudan.

"Olympism is not just about great athletes. It is also about providing education and opportunity for the youth of the world to secure their future and also make the world a better place," he said.

He invited African youths to Olympic Youth Games in Nanjing, China, in August.

"This is another great opportunity for African youths to showcase their talent and also join other youths of the world to share and learn about Olympic ideals while competing," he said.


Image: Thomas Bach
Photographs: Ian Walton/Getty Images

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