David Villa has been on the receiving end of more than his fair share of criticism lately, with a plethora of journalists suggesting that El Guaje is past his best and his time at FC Barcelona is numbered. Villa is on a poor run of form, but it is improbable to be anything more than that. Spain’s record goal-scorer has played non-stop for the past two or three years – and while nothing has been officially confirmed – one suspects that he is suffering from a number of niggling injuries. That is not all...
I will spare you an in-depth explanation, as the chances are that you have seen such a report: apparently there is a rift developing between David Villa and Lionel Messi. This disagreement surrounds the positioning of Villa within the Barcelona squad and Guardiola’s perpetual loyalty to the Argentine. Simply put, it is lazy journalism.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed in his book that he was benched because of Lionel Messi, and this is part of the reason. However, the gangly Swede conveniently forgot his abysmal performances that coupled with his prima-donna attitude and lackadaisical work-rate. In truth, Guardiola probably told Ibrahimovic that he was being benched so that he could accommodate Lionel Messi, but why would a manager openly tell one of his players that he was simply not good enough?
Ibrahimovic left for pastures new, and now his sensationalist book is scheduled for release he uses his most controversial story to drum up interest/put money in his pocket. Further proof if any was needed that Zlatan is only in it for Zlatan. This single-minded attitude was never going to work with FC Barcelona, especially when he regarded himself as a better player than Lionel Messi.
Then we have the curious case of Bojan Krkic, and I have heard whispers that he was another victim of this Messi-preference. I hate to attack the Catalan as I hold him in high regards, but is he for real?
Bojan expected more game-time, but he publicly announced his displeasure at a position on the wing. That meant the starlet wanted minutes in the centre-forward role, but ahead of him was Lionel Messi. With all due respect to Bojan, he is not better than Messi, and that is why he did not play.
The Spaniard was shipped off to Roma, but took the opportunity to take a swipe at Pep Guardiola in a similar situation to that of Ibrahimovic. Bojan’s selfish and nigh on narcissistic behaviour revealed the real reason for his departure: an inability to contribute to the cohesive effort.
Was it any surprise that rumours began to circulate surrounding Villa and Messi?
With Barcelona dropping points at the weekend, the critics re-emerged from their hiding to attack Guardiola, perhaps with a little less vitriol than before, but to attack all the same. Claims that Guardiola was tactically outsmarted by Bielsa have a basis in fact, but in actuality the pitch and the weather conditions were a larger stumbling block. To suggest that Villa has a problem with Messi may also have a basis in fact, but where were his concerns at this time last year?
Assuming these reports are true, he did not have the same concerns when he was scoring freely, in exactly the same position in exactly the same system. After all, this is the exact same David Villa (correct me if I’m wrong) who has no trouble moving to the left-wing for his National Side to accommodate lesser players (compared with Lionel Mess) like an out-of-form Fernando Torres, or Alvaro Negredo.
If he has the same concerns at national level it is because he is scoring goals, and if these reports are true, we can ascertain that El Guaje will feel a lot better when he starts hitting the net on a regular basis.
In that sense, it is lazy journalism. Reporters drive readers to their site by making sensationalist claims based on topical events such as Ibrahimovic’s book and Bojan’s outbursts. Though what niggles at me is the shock value these stories are supposed to carry. Guardiola cast aside Ronaldinho and Deco at the start of his reign to accommodate Lionel Messi, before doing the same with Samuel Eto’o (unfortunately) in year two. Then it was Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry in year three, before Bojan Krkic in year four. Guardiola safeguards the Argentine as much as he can, and the rewards have justified every decision.
If Pep Guardiola thought David Villa was a problem, he would have already eliminated him from the equation, and therefore, it s clear to see that these reports are utter rubbish.