It’s amazing what happens with Arsenal fans when you propose to give them exactly what they want. Young, inexperienced players are not good enough; those who will take an age to come good and then speak out of their desire to move on to the silver halls of rivals, both domestic and abroad. It’s not good enough when the player is an unknown that may or may not be totally fabricated. Fans want excitement, a player they know they can put faith into and whose status is well-known around European football.
The reaction, then, to Arsenal’s reported interest in David Villa has been staggering. It was unbelievable when people dismissed Fernando Llorente earlier in this season because he apparently couldn’t get a game in Marcelo Bielsa’s side, but this is something else.
David Villa is injury prone and over the hill, according to some. He’s not the same player he once was and why would Barcelona be willing to let him go if he was that good? Well that’s not the whole story or the whole truth. Barcelona don’t want to let him go because they know exactly what his worth is and how much he can contribute. The player, on the other hand, wants to play every week like he once did and is more than keen on the idea of a move away.
Injury prone? Hardly. Arsenal fans should know exactly what injury prone is. It’s the Abou Diaby three-week injury which lasts half a season. It’s the Robin van Persie ankle injury picked up every time Holland make the call. It’s most definitely not one bad injury in a near spotless career.
Thomas Vermaelen and Jack Wilshere have picked up lengthy injuries in the recent past, does that equate to them being dispensable? David Villas is exactly what everyone has been crying out for over the past six years, and now, with the possibility of signing him, the reservations and questioning of the manager’s decision come to the fore.
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David Villa still plays like one of the best strikers in world football. His worth to Barcelona was evident last season when he was out from December onwards. Would they have retained their La Liga title had he been fit? Possibly. Does he still have the same movement, lethal finishing, calm under pressure? Of course. He grabbed the crucial winner in an epic encounter with Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; a fight back that seemed hugely unlikely until Cesc Fabregas got the important equaliser with less than a minute left of the 90. But there was David Villa, back from injury to bring home the winner in injury time.
Isn’t he exactly what’s needed to guide a young pretender like Theo Walcott? There was nothing wrong with Thierry Henry going back to Arsenal last season, nor was there anything wrong with Didier Drogba winning the Champions League for Chelsea with his kick in the penalty shootout. Both of those players are older than Villa, and yet there’s an idea that players’ careers come to an end once they hit 30.
Van Persie is around 18 months younger than Villa, but if it were the case, no fan would oppose the idea of giving him a four year contract extension. Everyone wanted experience and now the club are looking to add more. They’re not only doing that but bringing in a big name, one of the biggest in fact, to drive the team on to fourth.
Villa’s most recent birthday hasn’t forced him to forget how to move in the final third, how to spring the offside trap and how bag 20 goals in a season. With so much excess cash reported to be laying around the Emirates, is £16 million too big a fee to part with for one of the world’s best who has won everything there is to win in the game?
It would have been great if he were arriving as a 26-year-old, like when he was linked with the club in 2008 but Arsene Wenger went on to say he wasn’t interested. But football doesn’t always work how you want it to. Would the excitement be any less if he were to arrive now? Certainly not, and it really shouldn’t be. How often do Arsenal have the chance to prize an experienced player of that calibre away from Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?