Star striker David Villa is departing New York City FC after four seasons with the franchise.

Villa, the 2016 MLS MVP, scored 77 goals in 117 regular-season matches and added three postseason goals in seven appearances during his time with the club.

Villa explained the reasoning for his departure in a YouTube video.

"My mind and my body need another challenge," Villa said. "I think this is the perfect time to say bye to NYCFC."

The NYCFC captain, who turns 37 on Monday, said he intends to continue his playing career.

The four-time MLS All-Star selection also expressed his appreciation for his time with the franchise.

"My experience here was amazing," Villa said. "It gave me everything as a soccer player, as a person, and as a family man. I'll always remember this experience with love. My heart is here and I'm an NYCFC supporter forever."

The Spanish star joined NYCFC in 2015 and his arrival was a big score for the MLS.

Villa was a worldwide star after scoring five goals in the 2010 World Cup to lead Spain to the title.

His presence was an immediate hit at Yankee Stadium, and he recorded 18 goals and eight assists in his first season in 2015.

Villa increased the goal count to 23 during his MVP season and followed up with 22 in 2017.

He battled calf and knee issues in 2018 but still had 14 goals in just 23 matches (20 starts). He had to pull out of the All-Star game because of an injury.

New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna, the former U.S. national team star, put Villa near the top of the list when it comes to best-ever MLS players.

"He's represented New York City FC tremendously both on and off the pitch and has been a real leader for this football club," Reyna said on the team website. "I truly believe that David will be remembered as one of the best players to ever play in MLS.

"He will forever be a legend amongst all of our wonderful supporters and everyone here at NYCFC wishes David nothing but the best in the remainder of his career. He will always be a part of NYCFC."

Villa holds the Spain national team record of nine career World Cup goals and 59 total goals.

--Field Level Media

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