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David Villa - Expensive Gamble or Marquee Signing?

By George Walker

Could star signing work out if Arsenal tried again in summer?

Following a typically mundane and uneventful January transfer window with Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal our only addition, there seems to be hope that the summer may be slightly more uplifting.

Gamble or good investment?

Throughout January, the out of favour David Villa was linked with a move to Arsenal (the move was never completed as Arsene claimed Barcelona were unwilling to sell at the time). This certainly was an exciting prospect for all Gooners, as it would be fair to say that it has been a while since Arsenal have been able to attract such a big name to the club. A ‘big name’ is undoubtedly an apt term to describe Villa- who boasts a staggering honours list including a World Cup, a European Championship, a La Liga title, 3 Copa Del Rey’s (Spanish equivalent of the FA Cup), two Supercopa’s (equivalent of the League Cup), a World Club Championship and a Golden Boot, as well as being Spain’s all-time top goal scorer. Compare to Arsenal’s current squad, who boast 2 French Cups, 4 Ligue 1 titles, a Copa Del Rey, a Confederations Cup, a Bundesliga title, an SPL title, a Scottish Cup, a Scottish League Cup, 2 Russian Premier League titles and a UEFA Cup between them.

Considering that the majority of these cup are not perceived as major ones, that six of the trophies have been won by Sebastien Squillaci and Andrey Arshavin - players barely considered part of Arsenal’s first-team; and that none of the trophies have been won during the players’ time at Arsenal, and you can see why Villa’s résumé is likely to whet the appetite of many Gooners, whose team has largely been starved of so-called ‘stars’. But despite the eager anticipation surrounding his possible move, does Villa, a 31-year-old who played just 14 games last season following a serious leg break, really represent a good move, commanding a price likely to be at least £15 million, coupled with wages that would likely be at least £100,000 per week? A move for Villa certainly has its pros and cons. Let’s start with the positives.

As I pointed out before, with such a prestigious list of honours to his name Villa should carry with the much famed ‘winning mentality’- something arguably lacking from the Arsenal team in recent years. Also, the fact that his name shines with stardom, would give a much-needed lift to everyone connected with the club and create a buzz of positivity in pre-season. His ability is also unquestioned, he has an outstanding scoring record at all of his previous clubs - 40 in 85 appearances at Sporting Gijon, 41 in 92 appearances at Real Zaragoza, 128 in 217 appearances at Valencia and 42 goals in 98 appearances at Barcelona, a career total of 276 goals in 557 games, a strike rate of around 1 in 2 - a phenomenal record considering his longevity at the top level of Spanish and international football.

So if Villa could re-capture this form, he would certainly bolster Arsenal’s attacking options and their goal-scoring abilities as a team. Villa also offers reasonable versatility, being able to operate either as a central striker, or as on the wide-left of a front three, so Arsene would be able to deploy him in multiple roles across the front line. Furthermore, despite him hardly representing a bargain, at around £15 million - the fee Villa could likely be obtained for - his transfer would not be ludicrously high in today’s world of football, where players with far inferior records command far higher fees.

However, despite the many positives, there would still be an element of risk and uncertainty to Villa’s move. At 31, Villa is not getting any younger and his best days are probably behind him, although he would probably still request a fairly long-term contract of three or four years, possibly looking to see out his playing career with his next club. This could mean that were Villa not to work out, Arsenal could be lumbered with a past-his-best, highly-paid player on the fringes of the team and struggling for fitness (Andrey Arshavin anyone?). And although that is a very gloomy worst case scenario, it remains a possible outcome. Villa would also represent a health risk for Arsenal. He suffered a nasty leg break in the semi-finals of the World Club Championship against Al-Sadd of Qatar in December 2011, which kept him out of action for eight months. Despite seemingly making a good recovery, Villa has yet to re-establish himself in the Barcelona team and get regular playing time.

This could be partly down to the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Udinese for over $26 million, but also could be down to the possibility that Villa simply isn’t the player he was before the injury. We Gooners know only too well how a long-term lay-off can affect a player - just take a look at Eduardo. Also, without consistent first-team minutes at Barcelona, it is questionable how David Villa would stand up to the considerable amount of appearances that would be piled upon him a Arsenal, which would likely involve having to play week-in, week-out.

To summarise, the ambition and desire that Arsenal signing David Villa would show would be great, the move would lift spirits at the club and catch the eye of the watchful English press. The move would give us all a short-term boost, but would David Villa be a good acquisition for Arsenal? - That is still up for debate.

Follow me on Twitter@goonerwalker

11th February 2013

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User Comment and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

wardy  7:38am 11th Feb 2013

its not attracting big names that has been the problem. Its finance that prevents us....... - Post No. 34345


chris dee  8:59am 11th Feb 2013

If Arsene signs a 32 year old Barcelona squad player who has lost 2 yards of pace since a broken leg then he has lost his marbles. But I don't believe Arsene has lost his marbles yet.There is more chance of Arsene giving a short answer to a simple question at a press conference than us signing Villa. - Post No. 34347


In Arsene We Trust  9:58am 11th Feb 2013

I trust in what Wenger does in the transfer window, he rarely let us down. If he feels he doesn't need to bring anyone in, then I believe him. Our squad is good enough, it's just we had bad luck with referee calls and goals in both conceding and scoring sometimes. Our current squad is a very talented bunch, they just lack belief on how good they really are. Next season or two when the squad had more time playing together, you'll see that Wenger will develop this team to compete for the league and Champions League. - Post No. 34350


Ron  11:24am 11th Feb 2013

Past his best and i very much doubt that it was a real possiblity of him joining Arsenal. A bit more smoke and mirrors by Wenger and the Club for the remaining believers to swallow i suspect. - Post No. 34353


billthered  12:04pm 11th Feb 2013

It would mean a shift for OGL who deemed Bobby Pires not worth a new contract beyond a season for reaching that grand old age of thirty one. - Post No. 34355


What was the point inleaving Highbury?  12:55pm 11th Feb 2013

We wont sign him. Wenger will **** the summer up just like he does every year so the decline will continue. I suspect recent rummours in newspaper may have something to do with ST renewal forms going out shortly. - Post No. 34357


Pat O'Cake  14:00pm 11th Feb 2013

@In Arsene We Trust, what a load of nonsense. Wake up mate. Our squad is good enough for what exactly? Look at the League table - 20+ points behind the leaders - is that good enough? I see that you are also blaming referees and bad luck. What nonsense. Excuses, excuses, excuses for a no-better-than-top-4 team - it may be good enough for you, but it aint for me (or a growing number of fans) - Post No. 34360


Gare Kekeke  14:21pm 11th Feb 2013

David Villa pre injury would have a major asset for The Arsenal, but the David Villa of now, not so sure. He can still do a good job as his scoring record for Barcelona this season suggests but I’m not convinced he is the force of old which is shame on his part as I found watching him far more enjoyable than Didier Drogba who is just a bully, albeit a good one (just ask an Arsenal centre back in the last eight years). I’m not convinced that we were close to signing him. My view is that it was the usual ‘we came close to signing this player’ attitude that the club recently have adopted a la Tottenham ten years ago just to appease the increasingly (and growing) unhappy fans. Wenger’s idea of squad strengthening is to bring in a lot of youth (either internally or externally) with just a sprinkling of experience in contrast to every other manager at a major club (yes contrary to some think we still are one) would do it the other way round. The forthcoming financial rules won’t make us better than Man Utd either. Wenger & Gazidis have got exactly what they wanted on that issue. UEFA’s FFP or the Premier League’s near equivalent won’t improve our defending or the arrogant attitude of some of our players either. - Post No. 34362


johnnyhawleyloovinggooner  14:35pm 11th Feb 2013

good buy on January 1st. bad buy in the summer. Reyes and Arshavin proved a good buy at the time and what a top winter purchase can do (it just did not work out in the long term for different reasons which we all know). too old and too risky in the summer. i would rather the money would go on some one younger in the summer - Post No. 34364


Peter Wain  14:39pm 11th Feb 2013

In Arsene we trust have you lost your marbles you trust Wenger in the transfer market!!!! This is a man who has purchased in recent years some of the worst foreign players seen in the premiership. Gervinho is an awful purchase as is Arshavin and Diaby not forgetting the fattest left back in history Santos. Wenger has lost his bottle in the transfer market for some time only spending 10 to 12 million when the top top players cost £20 million plus. And what do we get for our money- below average players paid above average salaries so they do not move when he finally works out that they are just not good enough. I was pleased we only signed a left back in this window. I would have preferred if we had finally got rid of the dross like Bentner Denilson etc all of whom will back in the summer becaufphB42se no one will buy them. Let Wenger see out the rest of the season and then go to Madrid so we can rebuild this very average squd. - Post No. 34365


maguiresbridge gooner  15:06pm 11th Feb 2013

You're right George it's been a while since arsenal have been able to attract such a big name to the club, unless you count way past his best Henry, on loan and way way past his best Beckham who trained with us for a couple of hours.In order to attract real top top quality you have to offer them not only proper wages but the prospect of being successful and winning something,then maybe we'd have kept the big names that we'd already had.Villa would cause a buzz around the place alright and maybe even show intent, but i would say the risk factor and his age is to great for ogl,although it wasn't for old red nose with RVP, and we have a couple of injury prone players ourselves, and a couple who have had bad injuries.Will the summer be more uplifting ? When we see one or two of these big name players wearing an arsenal shirt then we will believe it, remember it won't be long until the season ticket renewals will be dropping through the letter box and we know how ivan and the spin machine likes to tell us all about the top players and big names we're linked with,and in for, before we renew. - Post No. 34366


Mike  17:17pm 11th Feb 2013

I have also got to say that I am happy with the squad - we do need another striker and a CD but apart from that I think we look good now - and unlike the last couple of seasons most of the current squad will kick off again in August and be able to challenge from the start - when was the last time that happened. I still say we now have as good a midfield as anyone in the EPL. The Front guys are sharing the goals and the only conumdrum has been the back four who are individually good - despite this, we have shipped less goals than United - Post No. 34369


jj  19:50pm 11th Feb 2013

@ In Arsene we Trust ,surely you are a really poor attempt at a wind up. No-one can be that naive. It's the referee's fault. Good one. - Post No. 34370


Mandy Dodd  21:13pm 11th Feb 2013

Benzema could be a better buy, will be available as well - Post No. 34373


Reg  21:41pm 11th Feb 2013

@ In Arsene We Trust - Wenger rarely lets us down in the transfer window?! Last 5 years over £40m spent on the defence in TV, Squillaci, Koscielny, BFG and the hopeless Brazilian = continued decline and the worst it has ever been (and I remember Blockley and Mancini)! £40m spent on the Arseshaver, Gervinho, Park Chu Young, The Ox (here's still hoping). Return = very little and even the one we got for nothing (Chamakh) we won't be able to give away! Unbelievable! - Post No. 34374


JM - LONDON  22:53pm 11th Feb 2013

If we keep going like this then the ES will look really stupid when say 34000 or so turn up (rather than a poor looking 58000?) for an unimportant wintry game (I recall 24000 back in the 70's on a snowy midweek game, just desolate). With FFP already in ruins, lets just give in and let the cowboy have his over priced pay off from Usmanov and get going again. Long live Wenger, with DD as his boss again of course!. Villa would have been great short term?, nough said, never in a million years - bring on the revolution. - Post No. 34376


Big Andy  22:58pm 11th Feb 2013

@In Arsene We Trust: When are you returning to planet Earth? Wenger is finished, and I think even the Board realise it now. That's why there is no talk about a new contract. We are now crying out for a new manager to clear up the mess that OGL has left us in. The sad thing is that we will probably have to endure another season of misery before the Frenchman finally departs. - Post No. 34377


In Arsene We Trust  7:31am 12th Feb 2013

Pat O'Cake, if you carefully read my previous post instead of just foaming at the mouth, it's just certain factors that stopping this squad from reaching its potential. If the first team remain intact and work together for a season or two, I believe this team can compete for the CL and League. jj, you're right I am winding people up by being optimistic and supporting the club & manager. I should just follow you people by constantly moaning and how it's all doom & gloom for the club, because everyone loves whiners. Reg, TV, Kos and Mertesacker are great international defenders, the money spent on them were worth it. Squillaci and Santos are hopeless, but no manager is perfect with transfers, just look at the many flops that Manu, City, Chelsea and Spurs have signed. At least Wenger didn't spend more than £20m on a player, unlike the other clubs have done repeatedly. Wenger has several scouts at his disposal and he has shown time and time again he has a keen eye for talent, I trust him with the transfers than any of armchair managers that sit around playing FIFA and moaning on websites all day. - Post No. 34379


CanadaGooner  15:45pm 12th Feb 2013

spent force. not going to make much of a difference - Post No. 34394


Green Hut  18:33pm 12th Feb 2013

@Big Andy- If someone offered me just one more year of Wenger after this one I would bite their hand off! But the nightmare scenario that keeps me awake at night is us scraping the Fourth Place Trophy again this season, Wenger hailing the great achievement and deciding the team merely needs tinkering with on minimal spend, the guilt-ridden lemmings that inhabit the soulless bowl calling for 3 more years and the board giving it to him. I pray I'm wrong. PS What does OGL mean? I've been posting on here for a while and never quite worked it out. Cheers. @In Arsene We Trust- I'm sure most fans don't want to think and talk negatively about Arsenal, I know I don't, I just want a manager who gives me hope for the future, not one prepared to tread water forever and a day rather than change with the times. That's all. - Post No. 34398


GaryFootscrayAustralia  18:57pm 12th Feb 2013

Last I heard, Villa was in hospital having kidney stones removed, so just as well the club didn't try too hard to sign him in January. In light of this news, I expect his transfer value in June to be a lot less than a month ago, but still about a million or so higher than the current Arsenal administration's valuation. Cue tug of war over relative peanuts difference in value all summer until the end of August. - Post No. 34399


Gare Kekeke  22:10pm 12th Feb 2013

@ Green Hut; OGL means Our Great Leader. - Post No. 34404


Green Hut  22:52pm 12th Feb 2013

@Gare Kekeke- Cheers, I did assume it was some kind of ironic title! - Post No. 34405


Mandy Dodd  23:36pm 12th Feb 2013

Big Andy, disagree with your assumption the board have lost faith in wenger.......Ivan earlier in the season did talk of his desire to extend wengers contract, only for our manager to say he would only sign a new contract depending on his health and performance of the team, or something to that effect. If he does sign, it will presumably be on the condition he loses some of his powerbase gained since dein left....would that sit well? Ivan gave the impression he would love wenger to sign on, unless something has happened since then, it seems the decision to stay or go will be wengers. He will see out his contract, after that , anyone's guess, my guess...and it is only a gut feeling, he will then call it a day, as there is now too much pressure and expectation for him to be a truly developmental manager...he is now signing internationals in their mid twenties, not so much kids.... but heh what do I know? - Post No. 34407


maguiresbridge gooner  12:31pm 13th Feb 2013

Green Hut,Gare Kekeke,for some reason i have also heard it referred to as Our glorious leader. - Post No. 34418


Ron  16:28pm 13th Feb 2013

Guys - Are you sure it doesn't mean 'Our Greedy Leader'i.e less spend, more for me kinda thing? - Post No. 34429


Green Hut  21:02pm 13th Feb 2013

@Mandy Dodd- Pressure and expectation?? From where? The unrest on this board isn't remotely reflected at games. I don't know why posters like Chris and In Arsene We Trust get so worked up, because fans who want to keep the status quo still by far make up the majority in the stadium. Arsenal couldn't feel less like a big club. - Post No. 34435


parselmouth  10:00am 14th Feb 2013

This squad is also going through what I call "flatter" phase. They will lead you to believe that they are good enough based on their some "good enough" performances(like vs Sunderland)but slowly falling of a piece starts a domino effect. Team of 2007-08,08-09, 10-11 and the current one. The only saving grace now is that Jack can carry us through on his able shoulders. - Post No. 34445


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