A transfer risk too far for Arsenal and alike?
For those amongst the contingent of Europe’s elite clubs who were craving David Villa’s signature over the January window, Barcelona’s 6-1 win over Getafe gave his prospective suitors a glimpse of exactly what they’re missing out on.
Feeding off a superb Jordi Alba through ball, Villa’s 58th minute finish was deadly, clinical and almost inevitable. As he has done year in, year out for both club and country, his goalscoring record remains impeccable and in scoring his 11th goal of the season, Villa’s also put to bed rumours that he might not have returned from a broken leg as quite the player he was.
Although despite having little problem in putting the ball in the back of the net, Spain’s all-time highest goalscorer is certainly having some issues in getting into the starting XI at the Camp Nou.
Having only made 14 starts for the Blaugrana, Villa has remained on the periphery of Tito Vilanova’s side and despite continuing to offer a potent threat in front of goal, there’s a feeling that the ex-Valencia man’s time at the Catalan club could be coming to the end.
With the likes of Arsenal reportedly trying their luck in attaining Villa during the January transfer window, should Barcelona look to cut their ties with the striker this summer, you can’t imagine there’s going to be a lack of interest in one Europe’s most prolific front men. But if you’re the Gunners, or any other top European club for that matter, does signing Villa still make for such an attractive option?
The notion of Villa heading to the Emirates in particular last month was generally heralded as something of a no-brainer in most quarters. With Arsene Wenger’s side locked in a battle for Champions League football that is likely to come down to the finest of margins, bringing in a player of Villa’s caliber could have made all the difference.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell publicly claimed that the Gunners had no chance of signing Villa last month, principally because the club “needed him,” with “a lot of the season left to play.” It’s certainly true that the Catalan giants are always going to have room on their bench for a player like Villa, although had Arsenal offered the reported £16million they were looking for, you get the feeling they could probably live without him.
Although with the transfer window slammed shut and Villa still remaining a Barcelona player, has that also closed the door on a potential stint in the Premier League for the former Real Zaragoza man?
Despite only having a year left to run on his contract this summer, it’s difficult to see his price-tag fluctuating that much as to what Barcelona were reportedly looking for a couple of weeks ago. Robin van Persie had a year to run on his Arsenal contract, but that didn’t stop Manchester United shelling out what could eventually become £24million for his services. Granted, Villa hasn’t shown anywhere near the sort of form Van Persie did before he left the Gunners but despite his age, Vilanova’s side can still easily demand £15million.
Now considering Steven Fletcher’s recent deal from Wolves to Sunderland could potentially rise to just £1million short of that figure, the fee itself might not seem quite so bad after all. But for all his outstanding goalscoring ability and world-class talent, David Villa isn’t 25-years-old like the now Sunderland forward Fletcher is.Their talent is of course incomparable, but should he move to the Premier League, who’s likely to be scoring more goals in two years time? The 27-year-old Fletcher or the 33-year-old Villa? For the amount of money he’d cost, Villa would have to be putting quite a few more away to offer good value over the course of a contract.
Should Villa leave Barcelona during the summer, he’ll be celebrating his 32nd birthday at his new club during the first week of December. Given his age, this contract is likely to be his last lucrative one and he isn’t likely to be looking for a much in the way of a 12-month stopgap. Committing to sign him on say, £100,000-a-week for three years isn’t cheap business when you think the cost of that contract plus the transfer fee isn’t too far off a £30million bit of business.
No one is doubting Villa’s ability in front of goal but for the sort of money that will be required to make the deal stick, you can’t help but think there must be better value for Premier League clubs this summer.
For all his world-class ability, there is no player with a reputation too big that can claim to be a guaranteed success within English football, either. Andriy Shevchenko was arguably Europe’s most revered goalscorer when he moved to Chelsea aged 29 in the summer of 2006. This isn’t to cast judgment over Villa’s ability to cut it within the Premier League, merely a warning that it would be naïve to cast him as a banker for success.
Had the opportunity to sign him cropped up even as short as 12 months ago (providing he hadn’t broken his leg), perhaps you wouldn’t hesitate to shell out for the Spaniard. But for such a vast amount of money for a player now entering the twilight of his career, it could represent a risk too far for Arsenal and indeed any other Premier League clubs looking for his signature.