David Villa: A transfer risk worth taking
The January transfer window has arrived, and so have the inevitable rumours and predictions over which players are going where.
Having been arguably Europe’s most lethal finisher over the past five years, it appears that Barcelona are willing to let the legendary striker go, with the Premier League his most likely destination.
Having scored a remarkable 128 goals in 217 games for Valencia between 2005 and 2010, Villa made a big-money move to Camp Nou after the 2010 World Cup. He enjoyed a terrific first season at the club, winning both the La Liga title and the Champions League. Villa produced a superb display in the final against Manchester United, scoring the decisive third goal.
In December 2011, with everything going smoothly and having just turned 30, David Villa suffered a broken leg in a Club World Cup game with Al Sadd (Qatar). Having faced a long injury lay-off it would appear Villa has not quite returned the player he was. He has lost a yard of pace and no longer starts many games for Barcelona, and this is seemingly why they are willing to offload him.
This is not to say Villa is not still a class act. If he does move on, his new club will have a player who still possesses an almost unrivalled accuracy in front of goal, as well as a striker who works relentlessly for the good of the team. His movement and ability to bring others into the game are also up there with the best.
Whether he is just rusty after injury or whether he has lost an edge to his game is the risk that potential suitors need to weigh up, particularly given Barcelona’s asking price.
So, which Premier League clubs are keeping a close eye on the Spanish legend?
If reports are to be believed then Liverpool have already had a loan bid rejected, with £16 million the fee Barcelona are demanding. David Villa would be absolutely perfect for Liverpool, feeding off the creativity of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, and finishing chances that Liverpool have been horribly guilty of missing all season.
Liverpool’s main issue is that they are currently not really competing for Champions League football, let alone a league title, and Villa will likely have loftier ambitions than Liverpool can currently offer.
Arsenal are probably the club in pole position, and David Villa has the look of an Arsenal player about him. With Theo Walcott’s future still unclear and Olivier Giroud failing to set the world alight at the Emirates, Villa would do an excellent job leading the line.
He would thrive on playing alongside the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, and he would add a huge amount to Arsenal’s game. Whether Arsene Wenger is willing to part with £16 million for a 31 year old could be the stumbling block.
Tottenham have lacked a world-class striker since Jurgen Klinsmann, and while Jermain Defoe is having an excellent season he is still not on David Villa’s level, even if he has lost a yard. Villa joining would provide great competition in attack and would also drive them towards Champions League football next season.
Chelsea seem to have their sights firmly set on the 26 year old Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid’s in-demand striker, so it seems unlikely Villa will end up at Stamford Bridge. A failed bid for Falcao, however, could see Villa bought in as a short-term solution, particularly as money is no real issue at the club.
The Manchesters & the other possibilities
Even Swansea have been rumoured to make a stunning attempt to bring him to the club on loan, but Michael Laudrup has been quick to laugh off these claims. If it did materialise it would represent one of the biggest shock transfers in the history of the Premier League.
The two Manchester clubs, meanwhile, both already have four excellent strikers in their ranks, so a move for David Villa seems a pointless exercise, regardless of his undoubted talent.
By this time next month there is every chance that David Villa will be plying his trade in the Premier League. Whoever does acquire his services will not regret the potential risk that comes with it, and will instead marvel at having one of football’s greatest strikers over the last decade in their ranks.
Barcelona may even end up regretting selling him.