In this summer’s transfer window, Premier League clubs have the chance to sign David Villa.
That’s the thinking of Sky Sports’ Spanish columnist Guillem Balague, who believes the striker could find it difficult to get back into the Barcelona side following his leg break in the FIFA Club World Cup.
“Premier League teams have never had a better chance of buying David Villa. Before he just wasn't up for it - he didn't know the language, his family was young - but now you can convince him,” wrote Balague.
“He will start training with the team in April and there's an opportunity for a Premier League team to take him.”
We are talking about one of world football’s best strikers here, so these comments are not something to be taken lightly if Balague is indeed a man in the know. His track record suggests he does have serious insight into life in La Liga.
But signing the 30-year-old would represent a major gamble for any of English football’s big boys, given the nature of the injury sustained against Al Sadd back in December.
Initially expected to be out of action for six weeks, Villa is ahead of schedule for a training return at the Nou Camp. Given his track record for Spain, he now has an unlikely chance of making their Euro 2012 squad.
A linchpin in the national side following his move to Valencia from Real Zaragoza back in 2005, Villa has made 82 appearances for his country and scored 51 goals. He notched four in four to win the Euro 2008 Golden Boot, and then hit five in the 2010 World Cup as Vicente del Bosque’s side won both tournaments.
"The people around him think, and he himself thinks, that he will be there," Del Bosque told Reuters.
Were he to make it to Poland & Ukraine, and then subsequently impress once again in a major tournament, then the player’s valuation might once again skyrocket. Pep Guardiola spent €40 million to bring the player to Catalonia in 2010.
His form with the European champions was nothing short of exceptional, and whilst his goals tally wasn’t as high as previous seasons with Los Che, Villa found himself working in a front-three unit alongside Lionel Messi and Pedro. He was often working on the left of the famed ‘MVP’ attack.
“For Barcelona he plays wide left, sometimes as a striker - they miss him - but Barcelona can be a cruel team,” added Balague.
“If you drop your level a little bit then you cannot catch up. May be Villa is thinking to himself before that happens he will try himself in a foreign league. He hasn't got offers from anyone yet.”
The suggestion is that, with Cesc Fabregas enjoying a fantastic first season at the club, Villa isn’t guaranteed an instant return to domestic action – which opens the door for a move away.
So who would take him in England? Pretty much anyone, you’d have to think.
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted interest in the player on a number of occasions in the past, and previously signed Ruud Van Nistelrooy after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Chelsea have money, but not a permanent manager, and their instability could work as a negative if they wanted to sign Villa. Compatriot Fernando Torres would be a positive though, and could help the striker settle into capital life as a strike-partner.
However, a lack of Champions League football could also work against the Blues, who may have to win the competition to secure a return in 2012/13.
The same is true of Liverpool, who have also been linked with a move for the player as recently as December. The player distanced himself from a switch though, and the Reds would have to break the bank to bring Villa to the club.
One club who wouldn’t have a problem spending big is Manchester City, with Roberto Mancini handed huge funds during his time at the Etihad Stadium in an effort to secure the title. Could Villa be the missing piece, as the Red Devils look set to claim another English title?
Arsenal would be the most unlikely destination, although a Van Persie-Villa combination could help the Gunners move closer to the title from their current spot in third.
However, the price tag would be far too heavy for Arsene Wenger, who is notoriously tight with his money in the transfer market.