Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Villa, left, is back in favour at Barcelona, striking up a productive pairing with Messi. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo
Villa, left, is back in favour at Barcelona, striking up a productive pairing with Messi. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo

Lionel Messi right at home next to David Villa at Barcelona

The Argentine and Spaniard are forming a lethal partnership now the latter is back in favour at Camp Nou, writes Andy Mitten.

David Villa's Barcelona career seemed over a month ago. The most informed people at the club briefed that he was leaving in the summer.

Barca, they argued convincingly, wanted to cash in on a player who still has cachet, before he gets too old and before his contract runs out in 2014.

Villa, 31, wanted to leave in January and Arsenal were prepared to pay 20 million (Dh111.1m) for him.

But Barcelona would not sell him then, wanting to wait until the season's end, when they had brought a new forward to the club and promoted the reserve striker Gerard Deulofeu.

Villa was frustrated by his lack of opportunities after returning from serious injury in August.

Pedro, Alexis Sanchez and Tello, each of them more suited to the wing, were given more chances in the side than him.

Villa's best position is as a central forward, but he has seldom played there for Barca. That is Lionel Messi's berth. And Messi plays where he wants to play.

Villa's situation has changed in recent weeks. He started - and scored - in the 4-0 win at home to AC Milan that kept them in the Uefa Champions League earlier this month.

Not only that, he started as a central forward with Messi just behind in a freer role. His link-up play and movement alongside Messi was a key factor in Barca's best performance of the season.

Then he started against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, a winger in a more central role than a conventional wide man. He had two assists in their 3-1 success.

Villa and Messi looked delighted with each other - it has not always been so. Messi's influence in selecting whom he plays alongside is significant and he has decided that the best man for the moment is Villa.

Barca look at their best when the two are paired together. Villa is rarely offside, his anticipation is peerless, he gives Barcelona the option of a long ball forward - a plan B that was largely thought they did not have.

Far from offloading him, Barcelona are now considering offering a new contract to the Spaniard.

Tito Vilanova, the coach who is expected to return from cancer treatment in New York next week, will speak with Villa.

Villa is said to be undecided on what to do, his chances of adding more goals to his record international haul of 53 will be improved if he stays in Spain.

Or, with little to prove, does he do his own thing and move to England?

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National