Villa, Villa, Maravillarato. Wait, I think I did that wrong…
We have a new ‘7’ in our squad and he’s a pretty damned good ‘9’, too, when he needs to be. But who is he? Kevin already welcomed him, of course, and also put up pictures of his unveiling, but I’m here to discuss him a bit more in-depth. The sort of “Who/What is he?” thing that will get me into trouble later when I’m wrong about all of it. Or at least most of it. The optimistic ones of you out there are probably saying I’ll only be half wrong.
David Villa Sánchez was born on December 3, 1981 in Tuilla, Asturias, a tiny town near Langreo and Oviedo. He was supposedly passed over by Real Oviedo for being too short, but seeing as this is Spain, where the Little Ones have prospered for years, that strikes me as a rather apocryphal story. Still, for whatever reason, Villa ended up at Sporting Gijon, on the northern coast of Asturias. One of Villa’s childhood idols was Quini, so he was thrilled to bits to get to try and emulate him at Sporting.
When Real Zaragoza came calling just 2 years after his first team debut, offering first team and Primera playing time, he understandably jumped at the chance. Sporting had just ended up 10th in the Segunda, 19 points adrift of 2nd place (and thus promoted) Zaragoza and Villa was on the path to stardom. In his Sporting career he scored 38 league goals in 80 appearances and 40 in 85 appearances overall. He ended up playing only 2 seasons with Zaragoza, both with Gabi Milito incidentally, and scored 32 goals in 73 league appearances, 41 in 92 overall.
Valencia paid what seems like the ridiculously cheap sum of €12m for Villa in 2005 and he’s never looked back since, scoring 108 league goals in 164 appearances and 129 in 212 overall. In his 5 seasons with Los Che, he scored an average of 21.6 league goals in 32.8 appearances (25.8 in 42.4 overall) with his best season having been 2008-09 when he scored 28 league goals in 33 appearances (30 in 40 overall).
Barça attempted to prize him away from Valencia last summer, but were rebuffed by Valencia’s hardline stance of €50m or go home, which is, first off, extraordinarily fair of them. They wanted to keep Villa and knew that they couldn’t afford to lose both their star player and not receive a large enough sum to ensure that they could pay their bills. It was a gamble that seems to have paid off and they might yet survive this whole stadium and financial crisis debacle they’ve found themselves in thanks to having qualified for Champions League and now offloading Villa for €40m. It’s almost like having your cake and eating it too, but not quite as sweet as it would be if they could have hung on to Villa (and Silva seems to be on his way to Madrid as well, though it’s possible that they’ll be able to retain him thanks to the cash influx from the Villa sale).
As a member of Barcelona, Villa will be following in the footsteps of his idols again. Quini played for Barça between 1980 and 1984, racking up 51 goals in 99 appearances. Villa also stated that he idolizes Luis Enrique, the former Barça captain and current Barcelona Atletic manager, so he’s in a good spot at the moment. I wonder whose locker he’ll get. I’ve noticed in broadcasts where they show the locker room that the names of the players who had that locker are posted on them, which is so totally cool.
So now we have our ‘7’, capable of playing pure or support striker, of creating assists for teammates, and, of course, of slipping out to the wing to allow space in the middle for others. We’ll see how well he fits into the system, but I think it’ll be a solid match. I’m not thrilled about his arrival in the sense that it makes it harder for the other strikers to get serious playing time, but from a purely footballing perspective, it seems like a good fit.
The financial side of the deal is troubling, though, as we went head-over-heels into this deal, throwing cash about and acting like we got a bargain out it. I’m probably the only one out there who doesn’t think Dani Alves was worth €35m, but I’m also stuck in 1874 prices–dammit, why do Cokes cost more than a nickel?–so it’s probably just something I need to come to terms with. With this purchase, our last 2 seasons have seen purchases of €5m (Maxwell), €14m (Keirrison), €46m (Ibra), €25m (Chygrynsky), and now €40m for David Villa. That’s a total of €130m and while that still pales in comparison to Madrid’s summer totals of €252m (though they recouped €88.5m in sales and we only got €2m for Guddy’s sale plus whatever Victor Sanchez will bring us–I think €1m), it’s not exactly chump change, especially not if we add in more transfers later in the season, which I’m sure we will.
Beyond that, there are questions about debt, but that will have to wait for a different post thanks to Rosell’s current statements that we’re so in the red we’re on the verge of collapse (Oh no! Laporta did bad? You don’t say, guy who hates Laporta.) and me needing to wade through all of that to give you a clear picture of what’s really going on. Political shenanigans are, of course, just that. Forbes, at least, suggests we’re debt free, but I know that accountants are capable of fun “now you see it, now you don’t” tricks.
We’ll talk more about tactics later, of course, as the squad is finalized and we’ve all had a chance to think about these things a bit more. My apologies for being silent these days–I’ve been working on some stuff that you should see in the next couple of days, including some awesome information about the Kicking and Screening film festival and a longer post about the Barça philosophy that begins with a short discussion of Émile Durkheim. Yup, it’s true, I’m a nerd.
Welcome, Villa, and I hope that you’re happy here. Just one thing: when you say in your press conference that you’d die for Barcelona (“Dejaré la vida por este club”)–please don’t. We need you up front.