David Villa: Who's in the Hunt and Where Would Barcelona Striker Fit Best (Poll)

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterDecember 28, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 03:  David Villa of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Celta de Vigo at Camp Nou on November 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

If the gossip pages are right, Barcelona forward David Villa is destined for a January transfer.

Several clubs are reportedly interested, and Villa, 31, might just have his choice of a new team.

If that's the case, it's time to answer some questions.

Who's interested? Who has a real chance of signing Villa?

Perhaps most importantly, where would Villa fit best?

We'll sort out the situation and give our thoughts about Villa's next move in the paragraphs below.

The big spenders and the Mirror

Britian's Daily Mirror reports that Chelsea's Spanish manager Rafa Benitez is interested in signing Villa, who is his countryman. Soon after, the Mirror also reported that Villa is interested in Chelsea, citing sources close to the player.

The latter report indicates that Chelsea would prefer a loan deal for the 31-year-old Villa. Such a deal would square with the club's policy of offering short-term deals to players over the age of 30.

Villa, whose current contract runs through the 2013-14, would reportedly be available for £12 million, according to the Mirror.

Meanwhile, the Mirror has also reported that Manchester City are interested in Villa as a replacement for Argentinean forward Sergio Aguero.

According to the report, Aguero is upset with manager Roberto Mancini because Mancini criticized the club's failure to score enough goals.

Big clubs with big needs

Both Arsenal and Juventus have been linked with Villa, and both clubs would benefit from the arrival of a classy striker.

According to talkSPORT, Italian champions Juventus "have emerged as candidates" to sign Villa. The report provides few details.

Several sources have linked Villa with Arsenal, including The Independent and the Daily Mail.

According to The Independent, Arsenal would have to pay £16 million for Villa's transfer.

According to the Mail, Arsenal would prefer a loan deal but could consider a long-term contract "if the price is right."

A sort of homecoming?

If you read Spanish, you'll be interested in this article from Cope, which quotes Valencia president Manuel Llorente as saying Villa will always have a place with the club.

Even if you don't read Spanish, though, this is not difficult to understand. Villa played for Valencia from 2005 until 2010 before joining Barcelona for a reported €40 million (via Goal.com).

The question, as we'll return to later, is whether Valencia can afford Villa even at a reduced price.

The long shot with short odds

A final possibility for Villa is Swansea City. Don't laugh.

Earlier this month, Sky Bet made Swansea an even-money bet to land Villa (via Sporting Life). Clearly, the bookies knew something.

Swans manager Michael Laudrup played for Barcelona and could still have connections at the club. Laudrup, however, denied the rumors rather forcefully (via Daily Mail).

So where should Villa go?

Let's start with the least likely. Even though the bookies made Swansea favorites to land Villa, (and even though B/R's Nicholas Goss writes that it would be a good fit) the move seems highly unlikely.

If he does leave Barca, Villa would probably want to play for a Champions League team. Swansea are actually in the hunt for a Champions League berth next season, but Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all seem like more likely destinations.

With that said, Manchester City is probably the next club we should take off the list. Villa is currently in a tough situation, having played only a handful of league matches all season. At City, he would face a similarly competitive atmosphere and would not be guaranteed a first-team place.

Chelsea have Fernando Torres, another Spanish striker, but Torres has struggled to perform consistently. If the Blues can secure a loan move for Villa, they seem a likely destination—and Villa would likely play often.

The same is true for both Arsenal and Juventus. Both need strikers, and both would surely welcome a player who's on the wrong side of 30 if the cost isn't prohibitively high. On the other hand, money likely would not be a problem for Chelsea or Manchester City.

That leaves Valencia, the romantic choice. While a return to the Mestalla would warm hearts, it could also be risky for the club. Valencia owed more than €500 million in debts in 2009 (via The Guardian), and Villa's sale in 2010 was part of the plan to reduce that number (via Reuters).

Earlier in 2012, Bloomberg asked whether the Valencia region was "Spain's own little Greece," and the implication is clear. The region—and the club—remain in a precarious state financially.

Even so, Villa's return would be inspirational.

Ranking the contenders

If this were a list of Villa's best fits, the ranking would probably start with Valencia, followed by Chelsea, Arsenal, Juventus, Manchester City and Swansea. But Valencia might not even be able to afford their former player.

What's more, it's entirely possible that Barcelona won't sell. The club said so in as many words not long ago (via ESPN FC).

One of Villa's representatives has said Villa's future is in Barcelona's hands (via Goal.com). No matter which course Barcelona take, we'll be watching with interest.


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