Barcelona sign Valencia's David Villa for £34.2m
Barcelona have signed Valencia's David Villa in the first major transfer of the summer. The Spain striker has cost the Catalan club £34.2 million and will move to the Nou Camp after months of speculation over his future.
Villa, Valencia's top scorer in La Liga with 21 goals, will sign for four years and will be paid €7 million-a-season according to Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo.
He had been coveted last year by both Barca and Real Madrid, but Barcelona picked up the services of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan in a £40 million deal which saw Samuel Eto'o move the other way. Real opted to sign Karim Benzema instead.
A statement on Barcelona's official website read: ''FC Barcelona and Valencia CF closed a 40 million euro deal for Spanish striker David Villa on Wednesday morning.
''The Spanish international is due in Barcelona on Thursday evening and will have a medical on Friday morning. Villa will be officially unveiled as a Barca player at 1330 in the Paris Room of the Camp Nou. He'll then make an appearance on the Camp Nou pitch. The stadium doors will be opened to the public.''
Once the medical is completed he will join up with fellow Spain internationals Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Pedro and Sergio Busquets, all of whom are in the World Cup squad.
The move brings to an end a successful five-year stint with Los Che which has seen Villa develop into one of the most feared forwards in Europe and become a regular in the Spain team.
And the striker admitted in an open letter that his departure from the Mestalla is tinged with sadness.
"I get a lot of feelings, leaving many friends, but knowing that it is good for the club,'' Villa said. "At Valencia I have grown as a player and as a person. At Valencia I have felt at home from day one and nobody will doubt it to be that way forever.
"I want everyone to know that it has been a great source of pride for me to wear this shirt. It has given me so much and I will always carry it in my heart.''
Villa helped Valencia win the 2008 Copa del Rey and will move on having fired the club to a third-place finish in La Liga in 2009-10 to return the club to the Champions League.
"I leave with the satisfaction that the club has returned to where it deserves to be every year - fighting among the best in Europe in the Champions League.
"I would like to send a big hug to all the fans who have always given so much love, from the day of my presentation until the last match at the Mestalla.
"Also to all my colleagues who have helped me to improve, to all the technical staff I have worked with and to the leaders, especially (Valencia president) Manuel Llorente, and employees, with whom I have worked side by side.''