Whatever the situation with David Villa and his Barcelona future, he still has a role to play this year. A player of his quality and professionalism does not simply sit on the bench and wait out his contract; he needs to be on the field and in front of goal to live up to the standard he sets himself.
Tito Vilanova has been reluctant to use Villa as much more than a role player since his return from injury. This can be read either as a calculated move to phase Villa out of the team, or simply a reluctance on Vilanova's part to risk further injury by expecting too much, too soon.
I happen to believe the latter, as Villa's role was diminishing under Pep Guardiola anyway, leading him to become part of the rotation instead of a fixture in the side. Despite Lionel Messi providing more than adequate cover, Barcelona still missed Villa during his injury-related absence.
His role for 2012-13 is therefore unclear. After being given a start for the 5-4 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, Villa was then substituted in the 53rd minute to make way for Adriano, and the Spaniard's performance was solid rather than spectacular.
So where does that leave the Asturian for this season? His record and reputation ensure that he will remain a factor for La Blaugrana, and the following pages outline the effect that he will have.