Villa shooting for the stars

The stage is now set for Barcelona's new signing David Villa to enhance his iconic status over what could be a monumental 2011. By Alfonso Torr.

David Villa could hit new heights in 2011. The Barcelona striker looks poised to have a year to remember with club and country following a hugely successful career to date.

Villa is one goal away from becoming Spain's all-time top goal-scorer and he may also end his wait for Spanish Primera Division and UEFA Champions League glory by the time he turns 30 next December.

It promises to be a fascinating 12 months for a player who seems to get better with age.

That Barca paid 40 million euros (GBP33million) for his services back in May illustrates just how highly he is rated in European and world football. However, turning his back on Valencia after five years at the Mestalla proved a traumatic experience.

“At Valencia I have grown as a player and as a person,” he said after joining Barca. “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.”

In a Barca team boasting the likes of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi, it is often easy to overlook Villa's talent. The Langreo-born striker, though, is more than making his presence felt at the Nou Camp and has effortlessly settled into arguably the best side on the planet.

A return of 13 goals in 21 games in all competitions has helped Pep Guardiola's men open up a two-point gap over arch-rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga this season and ease into the knockout stages of the Champions League. Villa's standout performance for the Spanish champions came in the most important fixture of them all as far as the Barca faithful are concerned, his brace in the 5-0 demolition of Real last month.

Another two-goal haul in a 5-1 win at Espanyol means Villa is ending 2010 in style. It was a vital victory heading into the winter break, as Villa himself is quick to point out.

“The most important thing is to keep winning games,” said the 29-year-old. “We knew if we played like we know we can and we managed to control possession, we would have many opportunities to get the win. We are very confident.”

Study Villa's career statistics and it is easy to see why he is considered one the best strikers of the last decade. Villa has scored just under 250 goals at club level in little over 470 appearances for the likes of Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Valencia and Barca. For Spain, he is level with Raul on 44 goals. He has won the World Cup and Euro 2008 with La Roja, top scoring at the latter tournament with a four-goal haul.

Villa was also joint top of the scoring charts at the World Cup in South Africa earlier this year, netting five times along with the likes of Diego Forlan, Thomas Muller and Wesley Sneijder.

The stage now seems set for Villa to enhance his iconic status over what could be a monumental 2011.

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