Atletico Madrid striker David Villa has admitted that he was close to joining Arsenal in January of this year before Barcelona blocked the deal at the last minute.

Villa requested a move this time last year and Arsenal had a bid accepted for the Spanish international before claiming they didn’t have enough cover to lose a first team player at that stage.

Villa eventually left the Nou Camp in the summer and has impressed in Madrid with current side Atletico who are above rivals Real Madrid in second place in the table, just behind Barcelona.

The Gunners banked on Villa joining the club to push them back towards the title race but they eventually lowered their sights and settled for fourth place.

“I wasn’t playing so had asked the club if I could leave,” Villa said to Canal + and football-Espana.

“There was an important offer from an English side, you all know that that was Arsenal. The offer was very good for the club and great for me.

“They saw it as not feasible for me to leave at that moment. I was told that I was needed.

“Barca has always shown me great affection. They promised that they would ease my exit in the summer, which they fulfilled. I only have words of gratitude for Barca.”