When Barcelona signed David Villa in the summer of 2010, he was merely expected to be an upgrade on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But he has been that and much more. The 40 million Barcelona spent on the best Spanish striker of all time now look like an absolute bargain.
In his first season at the club, Villa formed the most unstoppable attacking trio in Europe with Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez, helping the team reach the next level and notching an excellent 23 goals, including one in the Champions League Final.
This season, he seems to have picked up where he had left off last season, having already scored four goals, three in the past two matches, and remaining a very important member of the team.
Given the current circumstances, David Villa might just have his best season of his career in 2011/2012. Here is why.
Some players find it hard to adapt to Barcelona and their very special way of playing football, but that was no big problem for David Villa last season. He hit the ground running and immediately became a key component of the team. Now in his second season, he is even more settled, and his chemistry with his teammates has improved even more.
For a while last season, Villa struggled to perform at his highest level on the wings, but he seems to have fully embraced that role now, after years as a center forward at Valencia. His partnership with Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez will surely be even more deadly this season.
FC Barcelona are Lionel Messi's team. Any new player who wishes to succeed at Barcelona really needs to get along with Messi on the pitch. In fact, that's part of the reason why Zlatan Ibrahimovic was such a monumental flop; he never seemed to be on the same wavelength as Barcelona's mercurial superstar.
With David Villa, the opposite has happened. The Spaniard instantly forged a great partnership with Messi, and the duo were lethal throughout the entire season. It's hard to forget Villa's two goals in the 5-0 Clásico, both after inch-perfect assists from Lionel Messi. David Villa has also set up Messi on numerous occasions.
His ability to play with Lionel Messi will help Villa have a fantastic season at Barcelona. You can expect El Guaje to score from Messi's assists on several occasions and vice versa.
Last season, Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez had to play almost every match, and that took a toll in the final months of the season, especially on Villa and Pedro, who had also played and won the World Cup in the summer. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez will allow Pep Guardiola to rotate his squad and keep everyone fresh, which can only benefit David Villa.
Villa is no longer in his physical peak, and he'll need to be properly rested in order to perform at the highest level at all times. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez, and even Cesc Fabregas (who has shown he can play as a forward) will allow just that.
This rotation will allow Villa to keep his high standards for the entire season and improve on his 2010-2011 overall performance.
At almost 30 years old, David Villa is obviously past his physical peak. But this might just be the best age for a striker like Villa to thrive; he's still in very good (although not peak) physical condition, and he has the kind of experience he didn't have before.
The experience accumulated over the past decade will make Villa a better and more intelligent player on the pitch. The Spaniard is undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation and the best Spanish striker of all time. His consistency is just incredible; he has scored at least 20 goals in each of his past 10 seasons, for four different clubs of different statures: Sporting Gijon, Saragoza, Valencia and Barcelona.
Besides, his international record is nothing short of sensation; he's the best scorer in Spain's history and was top scorer in both the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010, both of which were won by Spain. In short, there are very few players as accomplished as David Villa.
He has oozed class over the past decade, and now that he's at the world's best team, he will be able to reach new heights, making use of everything he has learnt over the past ten years.
As mentioned in the introduction slide, the circumstances couldn't be better for Villa to shine this season. Not only is he fully settled at the club and in very good physical shape, he has arguably the best group of playmakers in football history supporting him. Having Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Lionel Messi's creativity at your disposal is every forward's dream, but it is a reality for David Villa.
Even Emile Heskey would be able to shine with such a great cast around him, let alone a Spanish football legend. If he can stay fit, David Villa has everything he needs to have his best season ever in 2011-2012. His class combined with the world class service he has at his disposal can only bring success. With one of the world's finest managers at the helm, it's hard to see Villa not shining this season.
You can fully expect David Villa to shine and be one of the best players in the world during the 2011-2012 season. If there's one thing that sets El Guaje apart is that he never fails to deliver, regardless of which club he's at and all the circumstances. This season will surely be no exception. Except Villa to have his 11th consecutive season scoring 20-plus goals.
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