It’s not easy standing in Lionel Messi’s shadow, but David Villa has done quite well for himself. He has won, on both the international and domestic stage, but it seems that his Barcelona spell is coming to an end. Arsenal have expressed an interest and reports suggest they have someone in Catalonia negotiating the transfer of the striker. The fee is believed to be around €14m. But the big question is; is Villa really the answer to Wenger and Arsenal’s prayers?
Villa, 31, is well liked in Spain. His goal scoring speaks for itself, but the question that is on everyone’s lips is whether he can rediscover the form he had before his leg break in December 2011 at the Club World Cup. Initial reports suggested that he would be out for six months, only to return eight months later. The Camp Nou gave him a standing ovation but no one can deny that he is just a shadow of his former self.
Villa has only started 12 times in 35 games since he made his comeback. Impressively he has scored 10 times and is the club’s second top scorer, but it seems that the club are willing to let him go. Sporting Director, Andoni Zubizarreta, recently said that the club were not in the habit of allowing players to leave mid season and last year Barcelona suffered due to a thin squad. The reason was mainly due to injuries, and while they are sitting pretty in the league and doing well in the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League and have almost of their squad fit, they have still learnt from last season.
Reports in Spain now suggest that Zubizarreta has had a change of mind. Villa has spoken to Wenger on the phone and is keen on a move, as he has become a bit part player. Tito Vilanova was at first eager to keep the former Valencia forward but is now thought to be prepared to sanction a move. He would free up money for wages and for his age, the price Arsenal are willing to pay may not be matched in the summer when Los Culés would like to sell him.
On the pitch while he has scored 10 goals, no one can deny that Villa is still a little sluggish and off the pace. He has had arguments with Messi and other team-mates, who while publicly have backed him, privately are a little disappointed by his work rate. With the club looking to bring in Neymar in the summer, the forward knows his days are numbered and sees London as his last big challenge.
Arsenal are looking for a striker but at Barca, Villa is mainly put on the left wing. If he comes to London, he would want to play in the middle and this is where there may be problems. Walcott is determined to play there: how will the Englishman react to Wenger suddenly pushing him out onto the wing just weeks after signing a new contract and getting reassurances on his future?
Should Wenger decide to play the Spaniard out on the left wing like at Barca, although the player is keen not to be utilised in that way, then what becomes of Lukas Podolski who has being playing there lately? Then you throw Giroud into the mix and one may wonder is Villa, a 31-year-old player who is off the pace really the answer.
Villa will more than likely discover the form that saw him score goals for fun for both club and country. Most will say that he just needs a run of games but with Arsenal out of the Champions League spots, not to mention Villa being ruled out of the Champions League having played with Barca in the Group stages, can they really afford to take a risk? Should he work out, Wenger will get deserved pats on the back but this could also go the same way as Arshavin. Only time will tell.