By Greg Stobart
While ;David Villa enjoys the Brazilian sun this month with the ;Spain squad at the Confederations Cup, back in Europe a host of clubs will be holding talks to try and sign the striker from ;Barcelona this summer.
Villa has just one year left on his contract with the Catalan giants, and with the club showing no signs of offering him fresh terms, Spain’s all-time record goalscorer looks likely to leave the Camp Nou.
Barcelona are ready to listen to offers for the 31-year-old, who has been marginalised by head coach Tito Vilanova and can expect to find his opportunities further restricted next season following the arrival of Neymar.
|DAVID VILLA’S CAREER STATS
Villa has been targeted by Atletico Madrid as a potential replacement for Radamel Falcao, but his advisor, Victor Onate, has privately suggested that his client would favour a challenge in a different division to La Liga.
Tottenham have opened talks over a £10 million move for Villa and the forward has been impressed by Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas and his vision for the club. The London club’s lack of Champions League football, however, plus his £140,000-a-week wage demands, means they face a challenge to attract Villa to White Hart Lane.
Arsenal tried to sign Villa in January but Arsene Wenger is understood to be prioritising other, younger forwards, such as Stefan Jovetic, Gonzalo Higuain or Wayne Rooney.
Another option for Villa in England could be Liverpool. The Reds are facing a battle to keep Luis Suarez at Anfield amid interest from Real Madrid and Villa has the goalscoring pedigree to replace the Uruguayan striker.
Villa has scored 48 goals in 119 appearances for Barcelona since his £34m (€40m) transfer from Valencia in 2010 but has found himself often restricted to a substitute role as he has struggled for form and fitness since breaking his leg in December 2011.
Publicly, Villa has insisted that he is happy at Barcelona and is not considering a summer transfer.
“I have a contract with Barca,” he said earlier this month. “And I’ve always said that I’m very happy here.
“I always try to think of the present. I will go to the Confederations Cup and try to play a good role there.
“We’ll need to analyse many things during the summer and then we’ll see. Right now I’m not thinking about anything else than playing football.”
While Barcelona resisted offers in January for the forward, who plays either centrally or on the left, they are actively looking to sell him this summer as they look to recoup some funds and avoid Villa leaving for nothing next year.
Villa will not make a decision on his future until July at the earliest as he carefully considers his options, and for now he is focussed on the Confederations Cup while his agent continues to put in groundwork with clubs.
He could be tempted by a big-money move to Eastern Europe but his camp seem keen to push through a move to England, with the former Valencia man previously rejecting advances from Premier League clubs.
His age, injury problems and lack of form last season means signing Villa at this stage would be a calculated risk given the wages he would demand and a lack of sell-on value in transfer market.
But if Villa can rediscover some of his magic touch in front of goal, he would be a shrewd short-term signing – on either a two- or three-year contract – for virtually any club on the continent.
Villa will only stay at Barcelona if he is not satisfied by the offers made by other clubs, but he would again have to accept a bit-part role next term.
He need a regular starting spot to find the sharpness that makes him Spain’s all-time top scorer with 53 goals and a player who has scored around a goal every two games at every club he has played for.
There is a feeling that Villa’s time at Barcelona has come to an end – but we may have to wait a while until he decides on his next step.