Arsenal are considering a transfer for Barcelona striker David Villa but will have to pay £16m to sign Spain's record goal scorer, according to the Daily Mail. The former Valencia forward was injured in last year's FIFA Club World Cup and has struggled to impose himself in Tito Vilanova's line-up this season, starting only six games in La Liga.
An earlier IBTimes UK report linked Arsene Wenger with a January move for the striker but it was believed the Frenchman offered only a loan deal initially, with the option to purchase at the end of the season. However, these latest reports, if true, will likely end Wenger's interest in Villa; the striker is 31 years old and it, admittedly, makes little sense to pay so much for a forward in the twilight of his career.
In any case, there appears to be confusion over the player's availability. The Catalan club's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, recently stressed the forward would not leave the club in the winter transfer window. And now, Villa's team mate (at both club and country levels), Andres Iniesta, has called on him to stay with the club.
"I don't know if there's a chance. I don't think so, although for me personally I wouldn't like it if he did, because Villa is a vital player," Iniesta said, in the Daily Mail's report.
"I don't know that Villa's situation is, but if a great player like him comes, the record goal scorer with the national team, he would be welcomed and we would be happy," ex-Barcelona midfielder Oriol Romeu, now with Chelsea, was quoted as saying.
Arsenal are believed to be looking at strengthening their attacking options, with new signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud having managed only nine goals between them so far this season. The Gunners have also been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez and Newcastle United striker Demba Ba has hinted at a possible move to the club in January.