The 42-year-old coach was full of praise for the Dutch attacker and stated that he is counting on the former PSV ace as he enters his first campaign at the Camp Nou helm
The 26-year-old's future at Camp Nou has been a hot topic of debate in recent weeks after a knee ligament injury kept him sidelined for most of the 2011-12 season.
Goal.com revealed that Barca had offered Afellay to both Arsenal and Inter in an attempt to raise funds for the transfer of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, but Vilanova has insisted that the 26-year-old will remain at the club - at least until January.
"Afellay is a player of great class, there is no doubt about it," Vilanova told Dutch magazine NUsport. "Like always, he is part of our selection. We will begin the season with him."
The Blaugrana chief then lamented the injury that will prevent Lionel Messi from taking part in the club's pre-season friendly against Hamburg on Tuesday.
"It is a shame that Messi will not be part of the team during our trip to Germany," the 42-year-old admitted.
"He was ready to go when he arrived at Camp Nou, but now he will stay in Spain to recover from his groin injury."