Andres Iniesta says he wants David Villa to stay at Barcelona as the striker remains a key player for the club.
Villa has been linked with a January transfer window move to Chelsea amid speculation in Catalonia that he was unhappy with limited playing time in recent months.
However Villa’s five La Liga strikes when he has played make him Barca’s second top scorer this season and his Spanish international colleague says a split would be a major blow for the runaway Primera Division leaders.
“I would not like him to go,” Iniesta said. “He is a fundamental player (for us).”
Albacete-born Iniesta, who has recently invested in his home-town club to help the financially troubled side remain afloat, was speaking at a ceremony where the third tier club’s training ground was renamed the ‘Ciudad Deportiva Andres Iniesta’ in his honour.
“This is a very special day for me,” he said. “It is a real honour to have the training ground named after me. I started playing here. Albacete deserves our support in these difficult times. Together we will not let Albacete die. We will help the first team to achieve its goal of promotion. That is the driving force behind all this. I too am an 'Alba' fan."
Asked to sum up 2012 for Barcelona, Iniesta said that missing out on last season’s La Liga title to Real Madrid and the Champions League to Chelsea was not a signal that the record breaking era of himself, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi et al was drawing to a close.
"We have had some very good years, with this group, winning trophies,” he said. “The cycle continues. It only ends when you spend a few years without winning anything. Last season we won four trophies. We missed out on La Liga and the Champions League but, for me, Barcelona’s cycle has some years still to go.”
Iniesta said that the recent news of Barca coach Tito Vilanova’s illness had drawn the Blaugrana squad even closer together and shown that even millionaire footballers can have the same issues and challenges as everyone else.
“The news was a shock, because we were hearing those words again,” Iniesta said. “But what has happened has given (the squad) a lot of internal strength. As (Barca sporting director Andoni) Zubizarreta said, this ‘humanises’ the squad. We are lucky to do something we love, we have a sensational life... but we are involved in all this. After everything, we are all the same.”