Atletico Madrid striker David Villa has confirmed that Barcelona stopped him moving to Arsenal in January.
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Widespread reports during the winter transfer window suggested that the Premier League side had bid 12 million pounds for Villa, 32, and that the player himself was open to the move as he was not getting regular games at the Camp Nou.
However, the transfer failed to materialise and in the summer the Spain international instead joined Atletico in a surprise deal worth only 2.1 million euros up front.
La Roja’s all-time record goalscorer told Canal Plus show Espacio Reservado that he had been very tempted by the chance to join the Gunners, but Barca would not let him go at the time.
“I was not playing so I let the club know that the best would be to leave,” Villa said. “There was an important offer from an English club. You all know that it was Arsenal. The offer was very good for the club, very good for me. But they did not think it was right for me to leave at that moment, they needed me.”
Villa said that Barca had asked him not to move to the Emirates Stadium, and in exchange they made it easier for him to join Atletico once the season had ended.
“You must not regret the decisions which you take,” he said. “In this case Barca always showed me a lot of affection, and promised me they would help me leave in the summer. And they did that, so I can only be happy with that.”
Villa scored on his first home game for Atletico -- against Barca in the Spanish Supercopa -- but he admits it took him a while to learn what was expected of him within Diego Simeone’s organised Colchoneros side.
“I am very happy, above all because the goals and performances have helped the team achieve its objectives,” Villa said. “In the end I think more about the collective than the individual. This team was already made -- coming from some years playing really well, battling together and winning important things. As time passed, bit by bit, I have felt better inside the system.”
Atletico are now joint top of the Primera Division standings with Barca, and sailed through their Champions League group as winners.
Villa put such success down to Simeone having the motivational skills of former Spain boss Luis Aragones and the tactical expertise of ex-Blaugrana coach Pep Guardiola.
“[Simeone] mixes things from different coaches, he is similar to Luis with the way he motivates you with his prematch talks, and also to Guardiola,” he said. “Whenever you go out onto the pitch you know really well what you have to do, because he has worked with you during the week and has transmitted it -- both to individuals and to the collective.”