The Manchester United playmaker discussed his international teammate's decision to sign with New York City FC.WASHINGTON — With David Villa en route to Major League Soccer, Juan Mata says his nation's all-time leading scorer could be "the first of many" Spain internationals to make that journey across the Atlantic.
After Villa on Monday officially left Atletico Madrid to become the first player signed by MLS expansion side New York City FC, Mata addressed his international teammate's decision.
"I'm very happy for him," the Manchester United playmaker said Wednesday as Spain continued its World Cup preparations. "This is a great new step for him and his career. New York City is a great city, and hopefully he's opening the door for more players like him. Maybe he is the first of many to do so."
MORE: U.S. Soccer MVP rankings | USA vs. Turkey photos
While Villa finalized his future this week, the plans of Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas remain murky. The 27-year-old Spaniard, who left Arsenal for Camp Nou in 2011, has been widely linked to a move back to the English Premier League.
Fabregas compiled 13 goals and 14 assists in 55 matches (44 starts) in all competitions for Barcelona this season.
"It's a difficult situation for him at this moment," Barca and Spain center back Gerard Pique said. "When you are not valued within a team, it is very difficult for you to play and be comfortable within that team."
Another Spain player whose club status remains up in the air is Diego Costa, whose reported move from Atletico to Chelsea remains unconfirmed. The 6-foot-2 striker has been one of the hottest commodities in world soccer after scoring 27 times in La Liga this season.
"I don't know what's been confirmed, I don't know what he will do," said Mata, who left Chelsea for Old Trafford in January. "But if he does go to the English league, he will be a great player to have. He's a very physical and strong player. Currently, as far as I know, he is a player of Atletico, and I believe the Atletico fans and organization deserve that respect at this moment."
Although a hamstring injury forced Costa off just nine minutes into Atletico's Champions League final loss to Real Madrid on May 24, Pique believes there's a chance the striker will play Saturday when Spain faces El Salvador in a friendly at FedEx Field.
"He is a player that has great potential," Pique said. "Obviously he needs to be 100 percent healthy for him to participate at great length. At trainings I've been seeing him and he's been doing great. I think by the time we reach the World Cup he should be set. I don't know if at this Saturday's game the coach will let him in to play, but hopefully he can play a couple of minutes."
Follow THOMAS FLOYD on