He’s the record goal-scorer for the world and European champions, has scored in Champions' League finals and is now available for a cool £12million or so. It’s little wonder that there's a queue forming to capture the signature of Barcelona’s David Villa.
With the arrival of Brazilian wunderkind Neymar, the future of Villa at the Camp Nou was always going to be a matter of conjecture. It now appears however that the club are prepared to let the 31 year old leave, so that he could prove himself with a new club and earn a place in the Spain’s squad to defend the World Cup in Brazil next summer. Atletico Madrid have been linked with the player, as they seek a replacement for Monaco-bound Falcao, but it seems likely that Villa sees the Premier League as a better bet for him. And it seems that he’ll have a choice of destinations.
Liverpool, currently embroiled in the Suarez embroglio would be keen to land Villa. Should the seemingly increasingly inevitable happen, and Suarez shamefacedly shuffles of to Madrid, they’ll be left with only Sturridge, and the less than impressive Fabio Borini as strikers. Two more will need to be added and Villa would fit nicely. If Suarez departs, not only does it mean the club losing their best player, it also undermines their credibility to claim to be a ‘big club’. Persuading Villa to join them will help to dispel that problem. The major issue the Anfield club would have to overcome however is to persuade Villa that he could demonstrate his worth to the national team in domestic football alone. Bereft of European competition this year, Liverpool have no other stage to offer. It could be a difficult sell.
Spurs of course can offer European competition, be it only the Europa League. On the cusp of ‘making it big’ again, the club have an important summer in front of them. Should they be able to persuade Gareth Bale to ignore the siren song of Real Madrid, adding Villa to the squad, coupled with a further one or two acquisitions could be just the drive the club need to get them across the ‘top four’ finish line next season. Achieve that, and all bets are off with regard to Bale leaving. Champions League football is the aphrodisiac of the modern top-line pro. Villas-Boas would see the Villa signing as a further acclamation that his ‘project’ is indeed ‘projecting’ the right image to the elite of European players. It will be a statement of intent for the club. Could he however be persuasive enough to convince Villa that ta season playing in the Europa League would give him the top level exposure that he feels he needs.
Across north London, Arsene Wenger may hold the trump card. It’s the ticket allowing entry to the Champions’ League, football’s highest table. Although Arsenal’s salary structure may mean that Spurs are able to offer the biggest financial package, for a player of Villa’s standing, money may not be the ‘spur’ that Tottenham would need it to be. As mentioned above, the reason the player is leaving Barcelona is a desire to prove that he should be in the national squad for Brazil 2014. There’s little doubt that the best way to do that would be to join a successful team, perform well in the domestic league, but also show your abilities are not age-diminished by turning it on at the highest level. This will be a strong pull in Arsenal’s favour.
At the end of the day, the club that Villa joins, should it be a premier League one, will be gaining a player whose natural goal scoring instincts have been honed I the fierce heat of competition for club and country at the most rarefied of heights. A proven pedigree of finding the onion bag is a rare commodity, there’ll be fierce battle for his signature, but whoever wins it will have a prize to savour.