Mar. 03, 2010 - Saint Denis, FRANCE - epa02064047 Spain's David Villa (L) celebrates after scoring the opening goal against France's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (R) during a friendly soccer match between France and Spain in view to the FIFA 2010 World Cup at Stade de France in Saint Denis, outside Paris, France, 03 March 2010. Content © 2010 ZumaPress All rights reserved.

David Villa Moves From Valencia To Barcelona

Former Valencia star David Villa is set to make the long-rumored move to Barcelona, with a €40 million fee agreed to between the clubs.

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David Villa Passes Medical, Finalizes Barcelona Transfer

Medical clearance has held-up deals we had previously thought completed. Last summer, a player’s teeth led to concerns that he will have poor posture in the future. That was enough to cancel a deal.

Apparently (inferentially), David Villa’s teeth are fine, and with not fingernail, follicle, or overarching eyebrow issues, the striker is now officially a former Valencia player. Villa’s cleared medical with his new club completes the €40 million move announced Wednesday:

The two clubs agreed a fee of 40 million euros for the player on Wednesday and a statement on club website today confirmed: "David Villa is now officially the first signing for 2010/11.

“He signed the contract that will keep him at the club for the next four seasons with an option for another.”


Barcelona Insists, After Acquiring David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic Is Not For Sale

Barcelona's acquisition of David Villa sparked speculation that incumbent center forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be leaving the Nou Camp this summer.  Barcelona, however, is not amongst the speculators; rather, the Spanish champions claim they're intent on keeping their Swedish striker, a statement that could be genuine or genuinely posturing.

The default position - since we are not privy to the internal thinking of Joan LaPorta, Txiki Begiristain, or Pep Guardiola -  would be to trust the club's president when he says the Catalan giants have no intention of immediately recouping their investment in Ibrahimovic:  €46 million plus Samuel Eto'o.  However, Guardiola's end-of-season squad selection intimated Ibrahimovic had lost his place within the first team.  After being subbed-off in the second half of Barcelona's last UEFA Champions League match against Internazionale, Ibrahimovic lost his starting spot to Bojan Krkic.  Having seeing Ibrahimovic lose this place in the team, we can infer the quick move for David Villa may have been as much about acquired a long sought jewel as it was the jewel perfectly fitting a newly identified need.

Regardless, that jewel makes Ibrahimovic expendable, with speculation holding an array of clubs are ready to help Barcelona recoup their investment.  And if other speculation is to be believed, Ibrahimovic could see his playing time further threatened by the acquisition of another Spanish international striker.

Of course, there is a lot of speculation nowadays, isn't there?

But even if Ibrahimovic stays and another striker isn't acquired, and Pep Guardiola reverses his end-of-season preferences, and the coach reestablishes the Swede amongst this first choices, Barcelona would still have to undergo a significant stylistic or formation change to fit both him and David Villa.  They are bother strikers who play centrally in a system that habitually utilizes only one player in the middle.  Unless Barcelona plans on playing one of Ibrahimovic or Villa out of position, they would have to make big chances to their approach to accommodate both, simultaneously.

But perhaps that's not the goal.  Perhaps world football has come to the point where a team can have an Ibrahimovic, Villa, Messi, Pedro, Bojan, Henry (yes, he's still there), and Jeffrén.  Perhaps we're at the point were Cesc Fabregas is insurance for Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta (and insurance costs over €40 million).  If one Spanish team can have the likes of Kaká and Karim Benzema sitting outsides its first team, why can't the other have an equally jaw-dropping bench?  Perhaps, in a gluttonous sign of football's new world order, Ibrahimovic stays in Barcelona - the world's most expensive impact sub.

That is less likely to happen than Ibrahimovic leaving Camp Nou.  With Villa in the team, he not longer fits with the team's single "striker" approach, and while Barcelona's approach is not rigid, there are certain aspects, inherited from Johan Cruyff and the Total Footballing approach that has infused the club, that would be difficult to change.  Difficult might be a euphemism - it's borderline antithetical.  The single, central striker is part of a legacy, and while you could see total football allowing Ibrahimovic and Villa to move in-and-out of that role while starting in the same lineup, Barcelona has not taken total football to that extreme of late.  After all, when was the last time you saw Ibrahimovic out on the wing?

Villa could play with Ibrahimovic were Barcelona to play more like the Spanish national team, where Villa often plays off Fernando Torres as more of a number ten.  Given how many players on Barcelona are regulars for the national team, it's enticing to draw the parallel.  The analogy, though, stops when considering Argentina's Lionel Messi, who did much of his 2009-10 damage occupying national team Villa's place on the pitch.  Increasingly, Messi is more comfortable in a number ten's role, playing away from the right wing position at which he'd established himself over the previous seasons.

It seems if Ibrahimovic stays, Villa's acquisition will crowd either him or Lionel Messi, should Barcelona try to play all three together.  Lest Pep Guardiola do so, he should remember the experience his predecessor had trying to integrate his own superstar striker, where Thierry Henry's initial season at Barcelona was defined by position conflicts with Samuel Eto'o.   Henry eventually reverted back to the wider role of his youth, but it wasn't until after a disappointing season that saw Barcelona finish third in Spain and Frank Rijkaard lose his job.  At the end of that season, Krkic was against used that the saving sub, habitually coming in for Henry late in matches.

Like Henry, Villa has a history of being able to play a wider role.  In that light,  perhaps we should trust club president Joan LaPorta and concede that, although it may work no better than the first year of Henry at the Nou Camp, the team intends to try Ibrahimovic and Villa together.

At a cost of €40 million, it is an expensive attempt to revise recent history.  Of course, that money would be recouped immediately if Barcelona's only posturing, actually intending to sell Ibrahimovic this summer.


David Villa Moves From Valencia To Barcelona

Barcelona's long courtship of Valencia striker David Villa is over, with the soon-to-be former member of Los Che set to move to the Spanish champions, according to reports.

Villa will undergo a medical in Barcelona on Friday after Barça's €40 million bid was accepted by Valencia.  The move will end a five season run for Villa at the Mestalla, having moved to Valencia from Real Zaragoza in 2005.

Over that time, the Spanish international scored 129 goals in 212 all-competition appearances, becoming the consensus best striker in Spain's Primera Division.  He moves to Barcelona after leading Valencia to a third place finish in league and the Europa League quarterfinals, recording 28 goals and 10 assists along the way.

Villa is also the main scoring threat for the Spanish national team, tallying in 36 goals in 55 caps.  In 2008, he set the record for most international goals for Spain in one year, scoring 12 times, a mark Villa would equal in 2009.

The 28-year-old striker was linked with Barcelona last summer before the Blaugrana acquired Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been connected with a move back to Italy one year after being acquired from Internazionale.  Villa was also said to be open to a move to England, while last summer he had denied interest in such a move.

Though Valencia have had recent financial problems, to this point they had been able to keep stars like VIlla and David Silva.  Today, however, Viila finally moves, a move he makes with reverence to his time at Valencia:

"I get a lot of feelings, leaving many friends, but knowing that it is good for the club," he said.

"At Valencia I have grown as a player and as a person. At Valencia I have felt at home from day one and nobody will doubt it to be that way forever.

"I want everyone to know that it has been a great source of pride for me to wear this shirt. It has given me so much and I will always carry it in my heart."

Villa's acquisition calls into question the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barcelona's incumbent striker who lost time at the end of the season as Pep Guardiola went with an attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodríguez and Bojan Krkic.

Ibrahimovic was Barcelona's big signing last summer, coming off a season where he led Internazionale to a title in the Italian Serie A. Barça paid €46 million for the Swedish international, adding Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o to the package sent to Milano.

In his first season in Spain, Ibrahimovic scored 21 goals in 41 appearances, adding 10 assists.  He fell out of the first team by season's end, notably being subbed-out of Barça's last Champions League match, playing only 60 minutes at the Nou Camp against his former team.

Though Villa could play with Ibrahimovic, it would be difficult to fit both central strikers into Barcelona's preferred formation.

Villa acquisition means Barcelona's likely attacking trio will be Messi, Pedro, and their newest Spanish international.

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