Goal.com 50: David Villa (18)

The Goal.com 50 continues with one of European football's most prolific strikers.
19. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid & Argentina)

18. DAVID VILLA (Valencia & Spain)

17. Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg & Bosnia)

Put simply, David Villa equals goals.

There are few modern footballers than are so adept at peeling off from his marker to power home a header or volley, or react quickest in a penalty-box scramble to poach a winner.

He has an incredible instinct for scoring, one that cannot be taught, only nurtured, and at Valencia he has developed into one of the world’s most formidable forwards.

Despite los Che’s financial woes, Villa continued from landing the coveted top goalscorer award at Euro 2008 to record yet another staggering goal-per-game ratio in 2008-09. Despite his side's disappointing sixth place finish and early European exit at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv, ‘El Guaje’ was unstoppable, notching 31 goals in just 40 matches in all competitions, including 28 in the Primera Division, which saw him finish third behind Diego Forlan and Samuel Eto’o for the Pichichi Trophy.

That tally confirmed him as Valencia’s top scorer in all of his four seasons at the Mestalla, a startling achievement that further confirms his status as master goal-getter.

However, despite his own personal successes, Villa can only look on in dismay as financial mismanagement at boardroom level means any sustained level of investment in the first team is unlikely in the near future.

The big two have been circling; Real Madrid appeared favorites to secure his signature before their bid fell by the wayside, before Barcelona seemingly had him snared, only for the protracted saga of his future to take a further twist.

The reason for their interest is obvious. As international colleague Cesc Fabregas recently exclaimed, “Having David Villa in your side guarantees 30 goals a season, and there are few players who can provide that.”

Poacher | 'El Guaje' celebrates another goal for los Che

Juan Mata aside, who scored 11 times, Villa managed more goals than the rest of his team-mates combined in 2008-09, further highlighting his importance to los Che and how devastating his departure would to their aspirations of returning to the Champions League.

However, though Villa relishes scoring in the Primera Division, his displays at international level prove that he belongs at a higher standard, lifting trophies and earning accolades. His fruitful partnership with Liverpool’s Fernando Torres has resulted in Spain becoming one of the most feared sides in world football, and has led to them already being installed among the favorites to lift the biggest trophy of all in 2010.

Seven goals in his last seven internationals makes a mockery of his rivals more conservative totals when playing with their countries, and although Spain crashed out of the Confederations Cup to the USA, Villa once again proved his class.

His goals for la Furia Roja have almost ensured their return to South Africa next summer, but Villa, the true poacher that he is, smells Raul’s record of 44 international goals as his next major milestone. He said recently, “I would be delighted to reach [Raul’s] tally as it would help the national team achieve great victories and in many years time I could see my name on a scorers list that another young boy is trying to beat.”

If season 2008-09 proved anything, it is that David Villa finds goals easier to come by than any other player in Europe, and the 27-year old may be becoming a big fish in a shrinking pond at the Mestalla.

Will Barcelona have made the ultimate mistake if they let the 27-year old slip through their fingers? Only time will tell, but if Villa clinches a move to a bigger club who can challenge for honors, do not be surprised to find him near the summit of the Goal.com 50 come the culmination of the 2009-10 campaign.

2008-09 HONOURS

3rd place in Pichichi Trophy with 28 Primera Division goals

Paul Macdonald, Goal.com