Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Villa to Barcelona?

Apparently the rumors are that Barcelona is trying to snap up David Villa from a cash-desperate Valencia. Potentially, Barcelona will loan out Bojan and Cacares as part of the deal.

Valencia are in a world of hurt right now, with over 400 million euros in debt. So it is not a question of whether they will sell David Villa and David Silva, their two best players (both exceptional), but to whom and for how much.

My concern is what effect Villa would have on Barcelona should the transfer go through. Villa is an out and out striker who plays best in a forward position. Barcelona play a 4-3-3, with Henry and Messi as wingers and Eto'o as their power-forward. Eto'o is a large and gifted striker, who despite a slight lapse in form over the past few games makes for a great pass/cross target and is a deadly goal-scorer. I expect Eto'o to end the season strongly and with a vengeance.

So where would Villa play? Eto'o seems happy with the team and manager and generally loves the way Guardiola has been having him play. Is Villa a possible replacement for Thierry Henry?

Henry has had to adjust to being a winger again -- he was happier at Arsenal when Wenger converted him to a true forward. He runs much more than he ever used to. And while his play hasn't always been consistent, he remains a true scoring threat. There are rumors that Barcelona want to sell Henry at the end of the season, but while Henry has been losing pace and is getting old (for a footballer) he remains one of Barcelona's best scoring outlets and can still dazzle with the ball.

Would Villa play well in Henry's position? Would Eto'o? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.

I also do not see Barcelona switching to an attack-minded 4-4-2, à la Manchester United (two central midfielders, two midfield-wingers, and two strikers (although Manchester United has actually been playing more with 4-2-3-1, with Berbatov dropping back into the second-striker slot)). Barcelona is a team that is very reliant on midfielders to defend and to set up the offense. There has to be room in the midfield for a Yaya Toure and an Andres Inieste and a Xavi. Otherwise, Barcelona becomes unbalanced.

This is why I am a bit skeptical of Barcelona reaching for Villa -- if Villa comes into the team, Barcelona would either need to restructure or sell Eto'o -- and basically Barcelona would be trading a tall player (and good target for passes) for another short player. Not sure that would be a good move.

David Silva on the other hand... wow. He could be an awesome addition to the Barcelona team. Barcelona's largest weakness over the past three weeks has been inconsistent play from the midfield (please sell Hleb! sheesh). Silva is a play-maker and goal scorer and could make an excellent addition to the team.

Enough rambling from me.