Villa will stay at Barcelona, says Vilanova

The forward has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou for several months, but his coach has ruled out the possibility of him departing the club
Tito Vilanova has insisted that David Villa will not leave Barcelona in January following Sunday's 3-1 Liga victory over Malaga.

The 31-year-old Spain international has featured only fleetingly for the Catalans since returning from a broken leg, and speculation suggested that he was destined for a winter transfer to the Premier League.

But despite not playing in the win at La Rosaleda, his coach was left delighted with his two-goal performance in the Copa del Rey triumph over Cordoba in midweek and felt he displayed his worth to the side's cause.

"David will not leave, we are very happy with him," Vilanova told reporters. "The other night, he scored two good goals.

"It's been a long recovery process, but we know his importance to the team, and we're sure that he will help us."

The Blaugrana set a new record for points gained in the first 19 matches of a Spanish top-flight campaign thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara.

And Vilanova praised them for showing similar form to that of Pep Guardiola's maiden season in charge.

"We are very pleased, 55 points from a possible 57 is amazing," he added. "Coming here to Malaga, who had only conceded 13 goals before tonight, and score three is great.

"In addition, our performance levels are sky high and that gives me peace of mind. We are playing with the same dynamics of four-five years ago and that helps.

"It will be difficult to maintain this form [for the entire campaign] with the Champions League coming up. Atletico [Madrid] are only 11 points behind and we still have to go there. We must continue. "

Vilanova made his comeback in the Barca dugout against Malaga after he underwent surgery to treat his cancer relapse, and he reiterated his gratitude for all the get-well messages he has received.

"I appreciate the outpouring of support [I have received], but I want to be valued for my work, not my disease."