David Villa’s arrival ushers in a new era for Melbourne City according to rival A-League bosses.
It’s unclear what role David Villa will play in his likely A-League debut against Sydney FC on Saturday, but the league’s coaches know what to expect.
A great player able to win games off his own boots.
But what’s more, a player who symbolises the transformation that Melbourne City are undertaking.
Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer, Villa’s last club game was in the UEFA Champions League final, his last international game was against Australia at the World Cup, and his next game is against Sydney FC.
But whether he’ll be on the bench or the pitch when the referee’s whistle blows to begin the match at Allianz Stadium is unclear.
Feted for a second day after a hushed-up arrival in Melbourne, Villa said he would put his hand up to play but wouldn’t insist on starting on the pitch.
“That’s up to the coach, I’m just another team-mate, another member of the team and it’s up to the coach to decide,” Villa said via a translator.
“I feel good, I feel at ease and welcome. I’m recovering little by little from the long trip and I hope to be ready on the weekend.”
While his coach John van `t Schip wouldn’t be drawn on his plans for the starting XI against Sydney, opposing coach Graham Arnold showed empathy.
“For John van ‘t Schip it must be hard to fit a guy into your side that has only trained for five days with his new teammates,” he said.
“It will be hard to tell a guy who has been training hard for 14 weeks that he will now be left out, but it’s a great luxury to have.”
Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey said Villa elevated City to one of the big boys of the league.
“Those types of signings bring pressure and scrutiny straight away,” he warned.
“Melbourne City have gone from a team that was battling last year (as Melbourne Heart) to being one of the favourites straight away and that is a different type of mentality and it will be interesting to see how they go.”
Adelaide United coach and countryman Josep Gombau said he hoped football fans realised the significance of Villa’s arrival.
“It’s a big deal to have him here,” he said.
“He will bring a lot to the league because he’s a player that not just here to enjoy the experience, he’s a winner.”
“He will bring everything to his club.”
If there were any suggestions Villa would treat his tour down under as a holiday, they have been removed by his media appearances.
Villa has barely smiled during his interviews, but looks determined rather than miserable.
In Melbourne for 10 matches only, Villa said his focus was football and not sightseeing.
“There will be opportunities for me to get to see the city and enjoy it, but priority number one is the game.”