The doctor who performed the operation on Barcelona forward David Villa’s broken tibia last year has revealed the Spaniard was at risk of losing his leg on a flight back from Japan.

Vila missed Euro 2012 after breaking his leg in the semi-finals of the World Club Cup against Qatari outfit Al Sadd in Japan last December, and only returned to action this season.

Doctor Ramón Cugat, who performed the operation on the 30-year-old’s leg, revealed on Spanish television channel La Sexta that he was at risk of losing a limb on the flight back from the Far East.

"Big pressure changes like that, at eight, ten or twelve thousand metres, take a big toll,” he said. “They can lead to severe injuries, or even cause you to lose a limb".

Villa has been eased back into life at the Nou Camp, and has so far played 11 times for Barcelona, scoring five goals including consecutive strikes in his last two outings.

The doctor reserved special praise for the role Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has played in Villa’s recovery, and added that he believes that the former Valencia striker is now fitter than ever before.

“There's been a craftsman who has masterminded the issue: Tito Vilanova, who has been easing him back in, very scientifically. He's been very smart,” he said. "David Villa is in better shape now than he was in the season before his injury".

Cugat also discussed another of his patients, Barca defender Gerard Piqué, as he makes his way back from a foot injury.

"He has been through very intense treatment, because we wanted to make sure he would be the same old Piqué when he makes his comeback".

Both Villa and Pique have travelled to Scotland ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League clash against Celtic this week.

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