David Villa’s Future at the Club

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

In January it would have been hard to not predict David Villa leaving Barcelona in the summer, especially with Arsenal rumored to be interested in acquiring his services. The 31 year old was still recovering from the broken tibia that ruled him out for eight months and looked to have slipped down the pecking order.

Villa's first return after his injury was in the 5-1 victory against Real Sociedad back in August 2012. Villa was substituted for Pedro in the 75th minute and marked his return with Barcelona's fifth goal in the 84th minute.

His return consisted of brief substitute appearances until the 22nd of October when Villa was given his first start of the season at home to Granada. During Villa's extended run as a substitute he scored two goals in a combined total of 60 minutes, an impressive record for a player returning from a long injury.

But fan frustration grew as Villa seemed to not be getting a fair chance in the first team. After his start against Granada, El Guaje returned to the subs bench for the next two matches which included a Champions League tie away at Benfica. The all time top scorer for the Spanish national team seemed to not be first choice when it came to the important matches. The coaching staff accredited this to Villa's continuing recovery from his injury but it left many journalists and fans wondering if Villa would leave during the January transfer window.

Villa played only 25 minutes of the loss to Celtic, a game which begged for a player who was able to breakdown a solid Celtic defense. But despite Villa scoring two goals in his last two starts, Vilanova preferred Alexis Sánchez.

Talk of an upcoming transfer gathered pace as Barcelona entered the Christmas period. Villa had began to play more minutes and started the three games after the Celtic defeat including his first full 90 minutes against Benfica.

Meanwhile Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger was being put under more and more pressure. Fans complained about this so called "war chest" that Wenger had to spend and cited their need for another striker. New signing Olivier Giroud was performing well but Gunner fans wanted a striker of Villa's credentials.

The transfer window drew ever closer, more and more questions were being asked to both Arsenal and Barcelona. "Will Villa leave in the transfer window?", "have you agreed a deal with Arsenal?", "has Villa fallen out with Messi?".

As speculation continued to grow, Villa only played two games during January leading people to believe he was destined to leave. The number 7's goals had also been scarce in recent games as Villa's last goal was in the 3-1 victory against Celta Vigo back in November. On reflection January must have been a difficult month for Villa as his future became more and more uncertain, so when February 1st came around you can imagine Villa breathed a sigh of relief knowing that his recent future was decided.

Villa's first game of February came on the 3rd against his former club Valencia and a week later he scored his first goal of 2013. The striker scored Barcelona's third against Getafe and dedicated the goal to his newborn third child, Luca.

This game marked a turning point as Villa regained his status as a team starter, especially for the important games. The forward started six games during February and March, scoring four and assisting twice. Any talk of Villa leaving in January was forgotten and Villa leaving in the summer seemed more and more unlikely.

Barcelona are rumored to be preparing a new contract for Villa, with his current contract expiring in June 2014. In my opinion it is in Barcelona's and Villa's best interest that the contract is signed. Barcelona still need a proven goalscorer like Villa and with the obvious talent that he still possesses it seems unintelligent to let him leave.

While Villa has made it clear that at his age he just wants to play regular football. He has previously expressed an interest in playing abroad but with the chance to play in possibly the greatest team in history for longer, Villa is likely to stay.

I think Villa deserves another contract; he is currently the team's second top-scorer behind Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas, and scorer of goals that will go down in Barcelona's history. With Neymar rumored to be rapidly approaching Catalonia, I think the experience and expertise of Villa will benefit the Brazilian as much as Xavi's and Iniesta's will.

Anyway the future can't be predicted with 100% accuracy so we shall see, for now let's all enjoy the gift that is David Villa in the red and blue of Barcelona.


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