The script was written: David Villa’s Atletico Madrid welcoming Barcelona to the Vicente Calderon in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, and as it usually works with these things, the former Barcelona striker volleys a wonderful effort into the corner of the net inside the opening 12 minutes.
He was deemed over the hill and not quite good enough by Arsenal. The club registered their interest in January and were knocked back by a Barcelona who at the time were unwilling to sell. Six months later, Arsenal felt they had bigger and better targets lined up.
Villa’s goal wasn’t a fluke or a brief memory of a once great striker. The finish was the result and execution of a player still at the top of his game, for it was Villa who initiated the move in the centre of the pitch by releasing Arda Turan on the left flank before sprinting up field to get on the end of the midfielder’s cross. Much like the rest of his new teammates, Villa pressed and harassed; he wasn’t the man with a Champions League medal, La Liga title and World Cup who was now above everyone in his new surroundings. Instead he helped to form an important piece of Diego Simeone’s well-drilled and extremely impressive Atletico side.
After his goal, and only a matter of minutes later, Villa had the audacity to shoot on Victor Valdes’ goal from the halfway line. Such was the distance that the Spanish striker might as well have been outside the stadium; it was a huge and ridiculous effort. Though Villa has clearly lost none of his class, as Valdes went scrambling back to stop the shot which looked destined for the net.
Make no mistake, Villa isn’t the leading striker that Arsenal wanted or need. He isn’t even Atletico’s main guy up front, as it’s clear Radamel Falcao passed that torch on to Diego Costa. But at 31 and with a transfer fee that could rise to €5 million over the next three seasons, David Villa is a fantastic piece of business whichever way you want to look at it.
What is quite clear is that Atletico Madrid isn’t the quiet corner of the football world where Villa can close his career in peace. For now, he’s very much at the club to win. The passion and fire that was so evident in his game in the past was still burning bright; he wasn’t about to have any of that nonsense about not celebrating a goal against a former team, as Villa sprinted past the goal and towards the Atletico supporters. At that moment, Barcelona were just another team to fall victim to Spain’s highest scorer at international level.
Arsenal, the club who fail to complete something as simple as the signing of a player, could have done with Villa in their ranks. Lukas Podolski has joined Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the sidelines for what is likely to be the best part of the remaining calendar year. That’s two players down who would be regulars on the left flank, as well as Podolski acting as backup to Olivier Giroud through the middle. With funds in excess of £100 million sloshing around the vaults at the Emirates, David Villa’s transfer would have been a tiny chip at the tip of the financial iceberg.
Have Arsenal made a mistake in passing on David Villa?
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