David Villa to play with Melbourne City

City slicker: Spain’s World Cup winner David Villa signs on.
City slicker: Spain’s World Cup winner David Villa signs on.
Designs on the title: Melbourne City’s new home and away kits.

Designs on the title: Melbourne City’s new home and away kits.

The Melbourne City era will begin with a new name, badge and colours – plus Spain's all-time greatest goalscorer leading their forward line after David Villa signed on for a 10-game stint as a guest player.

Villa is potentially the first of many big-name stars to join Melbourne City, the newly rebranded Melbourne Heart. City will begin their existence with a World Cup winner among the ranks, wearing a white and sky blue kit bearing a new logo incorporating the flag of the city, with the red and white stripes of Melbourne Heart living on in the away strip.

Melbourne City originally wanted to play in the sky blue colours of its parent club Manchester City, but after complaints from Sydney FC, the Victorian club's home kit will be predominantly white, with only a small sky blue strip.

But it is the signing of Villa, who rivals Alessandro del Piero as the best player ever to play in Australia, that has captured the imagination of the public. City will now turn their attention to filling the foreign marquee position and two other visa-player spots and will benefit from a salary cap loop-hole in their hunt.

Villa, 32, will play his next club match in Australia despite signing a three-year-deal with Manchester City's other franchise, New York City FC, whose Major League Soccer debut doesn't begin until March 2015.

The former Atletico Madrid striker could become the first of many players owned by Manchester or New York to join Melbourne on loan, with the Football Federation of Australia confirming a loan payment rule will be changed this season.

Under A-League regulations, only the portion paid directly by Melbourne City for on-loan players will count towards the salary cap, irrespective of the net wage paid by the owning club. While guest players are excluded from the A-League club's salary cap, Villa may set the precedent for Melbourne's next three foreign player signings, after club sources confirmed they will use their owners' 32 active talent scouts in their pursuit of a new marquee and two other visa players.

In a statement of their intent, former marquee and fan favourite Orlando Engelaar is a possibility to return to the club under the salary cap, but is now considered an outside chance of resigning, given the extensive resources at Melbourne City's disposal.

After unveiling their new kit, a replica of Manchester City's third strip, Melbourne City do not expect to announce a marquee signing for some time, but it's understood that they will fill all three visa-player positions with more talent after signing a player who just two weeks ago played in a UEFA Champions League final.

Villa will arrive in Melbourne shortly after his World Cup duties with Spain and vowed to perform to his best despite playing in the A-League.

"It's very good for me in every sense," Villa said. "From a football point of view, it's the opportunity to play in a new league in a different country, and, of course, it will be ideal for me to get some competitive football in the period before the MLS season gets underway ... I'll be giving everything for the team, just like I have with every club I've played for."

Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of the City Football Group, said: "The sports fans of Melbourne can look forward to seeing one of the best players in world football representing their city when David brings his rare talents to AAMI Park later this year."

This story David Villa to play with Melbourne City first appeared on WA Today.