Arsene Wenger has received good news in the transfer market, after reports suggesting top target David Villa is primed to leave FC Barcelona this summer. That's according to a report from talkSport.co.uk, quoting Barca vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Villa would be the kind of marquee signing that would appeal to the growing number of disgruntled Gunners fans. His reputation and pedigree would add instant credibility to Wenger's protracted attempts to return Arsenal to trophy-winning ways.
Villa is a World Cup, European Championship and UEFA Champions League winner. The veteran Spanish forward has established a record for consistent excellence no member of Wenger's current squad can match.
Those are good assets to have and things Wenger's fragile team is certainly missing. However, they are mostly surface-deep, image-based attributes. The real question is what does Villa have left to offer as a top-level player?
After all, he is now 31 and his best years are almost certainly in the past. Then there is the issue of the serious leg injury that kept Villa sidelined for nearly a year. His rehabilitation was prolonged and his comeback has not been without some struggles.
Villa has only been a bit-part player for Barcelona since his highly anticipated return. It's easy to wonder why Barca have been content to let a player with Villa's qualities languish in reserve.
In particular, Wenger would have to establish that Villa hasn't lost the initial acceleration that made him such a threat. It is his short-area burst that enables Villa to undermine the last line of a defence and pounce on any scoring opportunities.
Of course one thing Villa won't have lost is his knack for composed and classy finishing. Injury and recovery aside, Villa remains deadly in and around the box. Fortunately, that is precisely the quality Arsenal need.
Olivier Giroud has occupied the main striker's role for the Gunners during this campaign. Despite a 14-goal return so far, Giroud can't be relied upon as a consistent finisher. His sporadic form has prompted Wenger to experiment with different forward combinations.
He tried Gervinho through the middle and despite some early success, that experiment quickly descended into failure. Similarly, plans to unleash Theo Walcott centrally, yielded only mixed results, at best.
What the embattled Gunners' boss needs is a prolific scorer to lead his forward line. Villa can answer that need. He would welcome a return to central striker after being pushed wide by the La Liga leaders. He would thrive on the kind of clever through passes provided by playmakers like Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.
However, Arsenal may suffer without Giroud's physical presence. Because their hybrid 4-3-3 often morphs into a version of 4-5-1, the Gunners need a strong forward, comfortable operating with his back to goal.
Giroud has that capability. The powerful Frenchman's rugged style was certainly missed recently against Bayern Munich, when Walcott was routinely outmuscled. A slighter forward through the middle takes away a vital outlet ball for Arsenal.
Villa has never been that kind of player and has flourished thanks to intricate passing closer in. However, his craft and guile in front of goal could more than justify sacrificing that aerial threat.
Wenger will have to decide if Villa's name value and quality finishing justifies paying a reported £14 million for a player in his thirties.787443