David Villa has been an instrumental player for Barcelona since he first put on the Blaugrana jersey. His connection on the pitch with Leo Messi has formed one of the world's strongest attack forces.
However, this season has seen many issues surround the leading scorer in Spanish National Team history.
His minutes are down, his importance has dropped and he looks to be on his way out of the club sooner rather than later.
But what is really going on at the Camp Nou? Are there true pressing issues that are pushing Villa down the pecking order, or is the club merely being careful with his comeback from injury (via Goal)?
Let's take a look at what is going on.
It is hard to look back on the agonizing injury that took place a mere year ago. David Villa suffered a broken leg at the Club World Cup and was ruled out for the rest of the season (via ESPN).
This created a huge problem for Barcelona as Villa was the main threat aside from Lionel Messi at the club. Harshly the rest of the season saw all the goal scoring put on the shoulders of Messi.
Some could even argue that Barcelona would have beaten Chelsea in the Champions League if Villa had not been injured.
This is of course impossible to prove, but he definitely would have helped the Catalan's chances.
But, the club was given a great joy when Villa returned from him injury in time to start the new season. Only time would tell if the Spaniard could still play at his previous level or if the injury had slowed down the prolific scorer.
It is thought that Villa may be on his way out of Barcelona due to a lack of playing time (via Goal). However, the issue of playing time is not actually the problem.
David Villa has been playing quite frequently in fact. The problem is actually who he plays with.
Barcelona has been lucky to have a few games recently which allowed for them to rest their main starters. Villa has seen his most action with this "reserve team." This could definitely be leaving Villa to feel unimportant at the club.
While stars such as Messi, Xavi and Iniesta rest, Villa is playing with the backups which obviously makes him a backup.
In fact, it may just be that manager Tito Vilanova is being careful not to rush Villa back from injury. No doubt the injury is a thing of the past, but it takes time to find form after such an injury.
For David Villa to stay at Barcelona and perform his best, the club must make him feel important again. But, is Villa actually important?
It is hard to claim that David Villa actually deserves more important playing time. The striker has yet to show his best form and, simply put, has been struggling.
His goal scoring has not been there lately, though it was at the beginning of the season. His passing has been awful and Villa has been giving the ball away frequently while in possession.
However, none of Barcelona's wingers have been showing up lately.
Pedro and Alexis have both been off of their form while not posing much of a threat in front of goal. At this point, manager Tito Vilanova is only choosing his lineup based on who is deserving it more before kickoff.
If David Villa wants his recognition and a permanent starting spot back, he is going to have to take it. It is up to him to prove he is the best on the team and it will all start with scoring.
The hard truth is that David Villa is probably on his way out of Barcelona.
I will be the first to state that I do not want to see the Spaniard leave. He fits Barcelona like a glove and creates so many different options in attack.
But he is now 31 years old and not getting any younger. His form has been dropping and his contribution just is not the same anymore.
With youngster Cristian Tello recently signing a new contract, every winger will be fighting for playing time (via Goal). There is no set starter, and that is the biggest problem for David Villa.
There is a chance that Villa could stay, but it all rests on his shoulders.
He must show his old form and take back his starting position by scoring and creating chances with Lonel Messi. But, it is much easier said than done.
Fans, including myself, continue to wonder why Villa is not playing a much bigger role for the club. The honest answer to that question, is that Villa is not able to at this point. He must step up his game to become a necessity again, or else this summer may see the 31-year-old packing his bags.
Has David Villa lost a step or is he merely in a bad run of form? Can he reclaim his starting spot or is his time in Barcelona coming to a sad end?
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