Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll have realised that the media are particularly fond of David Villa. El Guaje isn’t starting for FC Barcelona, so naturally, there are reports linking him with virtually every club under the sun (and Swansea) with Chelsea and Arsenal reported to be leading the race for his signature. According to a report in today’s Independent, Barcelona have quoted a fee in the region of €20 million, but let’s cast that information aside for just one moment and assess whether or not these rumours have any substance.
Of course, I have no inside source ready to give me information about Villa’s situation, but reading these articles, it’s clear to see that something doesn’t quite add up.
Firstly, the Independent claim that Villa has fallen out of favour at the Camp Nou because Barcelona play without a striker. However, and please correct me if I’m mistaken, but wasn’t that also the case when Barcelona signed Villa from Valencia? Wasn’t that the whole point of Villa’s signing as well? Zlatan Ibrahimovic was discarded because he couldn’t adapt to the Barcelona system, and because Pep Guardiola recognised Lionel Messi’s potential as a false nine. So, El Guaje was brought in and stationed out on the left-wing – a position he often filled with the national team.
Clearly, Villa’s playing time or lack thereof has nothing to do with Barcelona’s formation, but instead one could argue that it has everything to do with the form of Andrés Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas. Regardless, the Independent continue with the story and go on to state that "Barcelona are ready to let Villa leave", but they "are holding out for a sizeable offer".
Apparently, Arsenal wouldn’t want to meet Barcelona’s demands, and will instead pursue a loan deal. However, then it gets really interesting, because the Independent go on to claim that reports in Spain suggest that Barcelona are not desperate to off-load Villa next month making any loan move difficult to agree on. The whole paragraph pretty much contradicts the previous paragraph – one moment Barcelona are ready to let Villa leave, the next they want to keep him – it makes absolutely no sense.
Even if it did, does anyone really believe that Arsenal want to sign David Villa? He’s a great player, one of the best strikers in the world even, but the Gunners have been particularly averse to writing cheques with Wenger at the helm, and their wage structure simply could not accommodate someone like Villa. After all, Theo Walcott may have to leave the club if he really wants to earn £90,000 per week, while Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie and others have left the club in the final years of their contract in search of a bigger pay packet – amongst other things.
Why would Arsenal be so stubborn with Walcott if they were ready to pay Villa’s wages? El Guaje is reportedly earning around €130,000 per week at the Camp Nou according to some websites – which is far more than Arsenal have ever given any player. Unless Barca pays a portion of Villa’s wages, Arsenal cannot afford David Villa.
That rules out Arsenal, but what about Chelsea? As the Independent correctly point out, Villa has formed quite a partnership with Fernando Torres over the years, but Spain never played with two out-and-out strikers. Of course, El Guaje played on the left-hand side and as Chelsea also operate out of a 4-2-3-1 wouldn’t he have to do so again? Or will Rafa Benitez – on a temporary contract at Stamford Bridge – bench Abramovic’s £50 million striker? Considering some have gone as far as to say that Rafa was hired to improve Torres’ form, this seems a little far-fetched to me, so I guess Villa would take his place on the left-wing.
On the other hand, isn’t that one of the reasons why Villa is supposed to be leaving Catalunya – to play as an out-and-out striker? The Independent go on to state that Chelsea are interested in Spain’s record goal-scorer because Falcao is unlikely to move in January and because they are looking for a replacement for Daniel Sturridge who is widely expected to sign for Liverpool as soon as the window opens.
Then again, Sturridge has played 308 minutes for Chelsea this season – just 38 minutes more than Sergi Roberto has played this season if you need a little context. Do you really need to replace a player that has featured so little? And if so, why would you replace that player with David Villa? First of all, Sturridge mostly plays on the right-wing – a position that Villa has rarely played in his 15-year career – and secondly from Villa’s perspective, why would you move to Chelsea as Sturridge’s replacement when you have played roughly three times as much football for Barcelona?
Maybe David Villa will leave Barcelona in January – and he could yet move to Arsenal or Chelsea. There looks to be no space for him on the left with Cesc Fàbregas and Andrés Iniesta in such fine form and he’s unlikely to start ahead of Messi in the centre, barring some catastrophe, but there are plenty of reasons to suggest he will stay. Most of the clubs linked with El Guaje either lack the funds to complete a transfer or have sufficient space in their starting XI, and with another child on the way in February, Villa is likely to be hesitant if offered a move abroad – at least in my opinion.
What do you think? Do you think that Villa is headed for a January exit, or do you think he will stay and fight for his place in the starting XI?