Villa joins Barcelona's rank

Spanish international striker sold by Valencia for ?40m as Arsenal's Fabregas signals his intention to join the Catalans too.

The 28-year-old Villa was to be sold off last year but the club held him back for a shot at the Champions League.
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Lionel Messi and David Villa spent a day together at Barcelona's grand prix circuit last week as part of the launch of a new boot both players will wear in the World Cup finals. The pair of deadly but different strikers get on well, although Villa was complaining about the three-hour journey from Valencia, where he has played his club football since 2005. It is a journey Villa will not need to make in the future. Barcelona will become Villa's home after the Catalans yesterday agreed terms to take the Spain star to Camp Nou for a ?40 million (Dh179m) fee. The 28-year-old from Asturias in Spain's green north is due in Barcelona today for a club medical, after which he will be unveiled tomorrow to fans. He will sign a four-year deal with an option for a further year. Barcelona were only crowned Spanish champions for the second season in succession on Sunday, but they moved quickly to sign Villa. Pep Guardiola, their coach, and Joan Laporta, the outgoing president, wanted to avoid a repeat of last summer when the possible Villa-to-Barca transfer became tedious, and drawn out, played out in public, with Valencia not wanting to lose face by dropping their price and Barca refusing to be held to ransom. Cynics would argue that is what happened anyway when they switched their attention to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for whom they gave Samuel Eto'o and ?40m to a delirious Inter Milan. With Ibrahimovic not reaching the exceptionally high standards expected and Thierry Henry restricted to occasional forays from the bench, Villa became a key Barca target. Henry will move this summer and Barca will listen to offers for Ibrahimovic, but his value has diminished and the few teams who could afford his wages will be unwilling to pay up. Barca are likely to give him another chance and another year, although the Swede will face more competition for a place after Villa's arrival, the emergence of Pedro and the improved form of Bojan. With money to spend in order to increase competition in the squad, Guardiola will be relishing next season. Barca have recently been playing without an established No 9, with arguably the smallest front three in top level football - Messi, Bojan and Pedro. Although the Catalans have continued to win and Messi won the pichichi top scorers' award in Spain for the first time (matching Ronaldo's 47-goal club record in all competitions in 1996/97), the club's desire for a No 9 was always apparent. Villa broke the news to his Valencia teammates in a text message on Tuesday night. He scored 107 goals in 166 league matches for Los Che, while establishing himself as Spain's leading striker. The top scorer in both Euro 2008 and in Spain's World Cup qualifying group, he is already his country's second highest top scorer with 36 goals from 55 matches, eight short of the record held by Raul - the man he pushed out of the team. Villa has also scored 20 or more goals a season in club football in eight of the past nine seasons. Valencia defended the sale, with Manuel Llorente, the club president, announcing: "The board's objective is to make sure we have economic viability for the future. We are obliged to take responsible decisions. Considering our financial situation it is responsible to sell this player. We could have done this deal last year but we thought at that moment it was best to keep our squad together and get into the Champions League. We have achieved that and finished third [in the league]." Cesc Fabregas, the Arsenal captain, is set to follow Villa to the Camp Nou. The Catalan played for Barca until he joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2003 and stated on Monday that if he leaves London, it will be for Barca. sports@thenational.ae

1981 Born December 3, in Langreo, Spain. 2000 Starts his professional career with the Primera Liga club Sporting Gijon, scoring 50 goals in three seasons. 2003 Joins Real Zaragoza and wins the Copa del Rey in his first season, scoring a penalty in the final against Real Madrid. 2005, February 2 Makes his international debut for Spain in Almeria in a 5-0 win over San Marino. June Moves to Valencia for a reported ?15 million (Dh67m). 2006 Scores 25 goals in 35 Primera Liga games for Valencia during the 2005/06 season to finish a goal behind the league's top scorer, Samuel Eto'o of Barcelona. June Travels with Spain to the World Cup in Germany and scores in their opening match, against Ukraine. Puts Spain 1-0 ahead against France in last 16 but Les Bleus hit back to win 3-1. 2008Wins his first trophy with Valencia - the Copa del Rey - with 3-1 win over Getafe in the final. Scores six goals in Spain's triumphant Euro 2008 campaign to finish the top scorer in the competition, despite missing the 1-0 win over Germany in the final because of injury. August 27 Signs new six-year contract with Valencia. 2009 Scores 28 goals for Valencia in 33 La Liga games in 2008/09. July Linked with big-spending clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea, but claims he would be happy to see out his career with Valencia, saying: "I had the desire to remain here and I want to spend all my sporting career here." 2010, May 19 Barcelona confirm they have agreed a fee of ?40m with Valencia for the forward, who will move to Camp Nou on four-year contract subject to passing a medical.