DAVID VILLA IS SET TO STAY - AT LEAST UNTIL THE SUMMER
It had been thought by some that David Villa could be packing his bags this winter and moving away from Camp Nou, but the Asturian striker has no intention of leaving Barcelona at this stage and will definitely not be departing in the next transfer window.
Villa suffered a broken leg a year ago on Saturday and has taken time to recover his fitness. The striker has had to be patient this term and has been frustrated at watching on from the bench for much of the season so far. The player turned 31 earlier this month and is keen to play more first-team football, but understands he has been left out for purely technical and tactical reasons.
His former club Valencia would love to have him back, but Villa is only interested in Barcelona at the moment. He knows he is still short of full fitness and hopes he will receive more minutes when he is back to his best. He is conscious, however, that no player at Barcelona is exempt from resting on the bench - not even Lionel Messi.
Barca are unwilling to listen to offers for their Spain striker and know that the trident he forms with Messi and Pedro has brought significant success in the past. For his part, Villa sees himself as part of Barca's plans, and not at Juventus or Valencia, nor retiring from the game in the near future.
Talk of a rift with Messi is off the mark and the pair celebrated together after combining to score the first goal in the Copa del Rey at Cordoba last week. Villa has the admiration of his team-mates and has been an example in his recovery from serious injury, returning to the first team with the same desire and hunger for goals he has always had.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ STILL HAS A CAMP NOU FUTURE
Alexis Sanchez has endured a difficult time in Catalunya and has already been written off by many observers. Last season the Chile international was disrupted by injuries and this term he has also been on he treatment table. On the pitch, his performances have disappointed, too. Time is running out.
The former Udinese forward can operate on both flanks, although the recent renewal of Cristian Tello and the return to form of Pedro mean he is longer guaranteed a place in the side or even in the squad. However, coach Tito Vilanova still has faith in the Chilean and believes his player can return to his best in the second half of the season.
Much is demanded of Alexis due to his elevated transfer fee, but instead of goals the forward has been used to doing much of the 'dirty work' off the ball to provide for Messi and his team-mates. And as Vilanova commented before he picked up his latest injury, the player needs to start scoring again for his confidence to return.
Should he fail to convert or return to the kind of form he approached at times last season, Barca could consider putting him out on loan. However, he has until the end of the season to prove that won't be necessary.
MUNIESA AND JONATHAN DOS SANTOS COULD MOVE ON
Two players who look set to move on are Marc Muniesa and Jonathan dos Santos.
Muniesa's story is one of misfortune. The Masia graduate has picked up one serious injury after another and dropped well back in the pecking order at Camp Nou. The defender is currently sidelined for what could be rest of the current campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the summer, thereby missing the opportunity to fill in for injured team-mates Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.
The player and his agent will meet with the club in January to discuss his future. Muniesa has returned to light training and muscle work but is still a long way from a return to full fitness and may have played his last game for Barca already. With Jordi Alba impressing and Adriano able to fill in across the back four, his Camp Nou future looks bleak and if he can prove his fitness, the player may even move on this winter.
Meanwhile, Jonathan dos Santos' dream of becoming a first-team regular at Barca looks like it will never be realised. The Mexico midfielder has found opportunities hard to come by and was even cut from the final squad by coach Tito Vilanova in the Copa del Rey at Cordoba last week.
The youngest of the Dos Santos brothers is aware he no longer forms part of the club's plans, but recently claimed he is currently unwilling to pack his bags in search of first-team football. Barcelona, meanwhile, are not looking to sell the midfielder, but move him out on loan for a year. Dos Santos, though, knows full well that once he steps foot outside Camp Nou, his chances of making it at the Catalan club will be even more remote.