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Since the draw for the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, in Nyon, Switzerland lastThursday, the stage has been set for a lot of drama both on and off the pitch. One significantheadline coming out of the Champions League knockout round is, Barcelona's unwillingnessto send striker David Villa on loan to any of the English teams that are interested in his services.The Spanish international record-setting goal scorer David Villa has been highly coveted by afew teams in the English Premier League (EPL) due to limited playing time for Barcelona.
Among the EPL sides interested in Villa's services are Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, andTottenham Hot Spurs. It has been a tough go for Villa to get playing time due to theoutstanding play of Lionel Messi (the FIFA Ballon d' Or winner) during his record goal-scoringseason; as well as, strikers like Cristan Tello who have been providing Barcelona with solid playdespite limited minutes. (It is worth noting that David Villa did come on as a substitute duringlast weekend's 4-0 victory over Espanyol).
The Liga leaders (Barcelona) ended the 2012 campaign with a 3-1 victory away from home overReal Valladolid CF. Barcelona continued its record-breaking start to the league by beating localrival RCD Espanyol 4-0 at home over the weekend.
At the FIFA Ballon d' Or gala on Monday night, Barcelona's President Sandro Rosell ruled outVilla's loan to any EPL team. Rosell told Catalan paper Sport the 31-year old striker will not beloaned out this month...stating “a loan for David Villa in the winter transfer window can beabsolutely discarded...he is our player and we need him.”
Of all the clubs in pursuit of a Villa loan, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is high on gettingthis deal done. However, Rosell maintains the 31-year old who signed a £31 million deal fromValencia in 2012 will not leave Barcelona in January.
The window on the Villa loan is closing fast as Barcelona's sensation Lionel Messi got hurtduring a 0-0 draw against Benfica at Camp Nou on Wednesday. With the certainty of Messi'sinjury up in the air, there may now be the need for Villa to play a bigger role for Barcelona.
Messi suffered a knee injury after colliding with Benefica's goalkeeper Artur. He will undergoan MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of his injury. Messi got injured after going onas a substitute in the 58 th minute on Wednesday. Depending on the severity of the injury,Barca may choose to place Messi on injured reserve and insert Villa into the starting lineupas Barcelona has already qualified for the knockout round as the top seed in Group G of theChampions League.
The draw of the Round of 16 has yielded some exciting matchups including—ManchesterUnited vs. Real Madrid; Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich; and AC Milan will play against Barcelona.