NYCFC Notes: Villa addresses contract talks, denies Iniesta report, Lampard returns

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Just as far down the list of David Villa’s priorities as the Golden Boot are talks of a new contract.

Villa told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl that he had held talks with New York City FC about his contract, which expires at the end of next season. Villa said while he is enjoying his time with the club, he is not thinking about the negotiations.

“It doesn’t matter now,” Villa said. “We play a game this week and [the contract talks] doesn’t matter. I have one year more under contract and when the season is finished we will talk about this. We are good, me and the team, but now it’s not important.”

Villa Denies Recruiting Iniesta

Also not that important to Villa at this time is his so-called recruitment of Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta. Villa reportedly invited Iniesta to join him at NYCFC though the midfielder remains under contract until the end of the 2017-18 season, something he denied yesterday.

“I haven’t talked with him but I hope New York City sign Iniesta because he’s a very good player,” Villa said, “but I didn’t talk to him about this.”

Lampard nearing return

Barring a setback, Frank Lampard will return to the NYCFC lineup for Sunday’s match against Columbus Crew SC. Lampard has missed the last three matches due to a calf injury but was fully involved in training yesterday. Lampard has been training throughout the week and head coach Patrick Vieira said Lampard was fit.

Although City’s playoff possibilities could result in them playing twice in three days, Vieira said he won’t be taking any precautions about Lampard’s minutes.

“We really want to concentrate and to think about Columbus because it is important for us to finish second,” Vieira said. “What I really want is to finish the season well and then think about the playoffs. With Frank, if he’s training the whole week and has no issues, there is no problem putting him on the bench or starting him. That is regarding how we train during the week and I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Vieira’s admiration for Crew SC and Patrick Mullins

Vieira has made his appreciation for Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter’s emphasis on technical play and building up from the back very clear each time the teams prepare to face each other.

Columbus will miss the playoffs just a season after reaching and hosting the MLS Cup Final. Vieira said he watched Crew SC’s last five matches and could not figure out how they are ninth in the East.

“They had some missing players but they are the team that play the best football in the league,” Vieira said. He followed answering a reporter’s question about some of the teams that impressed him this season.

“Portland, Seattle, I think the Red Bulls play some really good football as well. D.C. works really hard and I think with Patrick Mullins, they changed the team. I think he massively improved the team.”