By Manuel Traquete

David Villa is quite possibly the most underrated player in the world today. El Guaje is arguably the best Spanish striker of all-time and has been one of the top strikers in the world for almost a decade and yet somehow he only joined a top team (no offense to Gijon, Zaragoza and Valencia) this season. How can every top club have overlooked David Villa for so long?

After several years carrying Valencia, David Villa is now proving at Barcelona that he deserves to play at a top team. He might be somewhat in Lionel Messi’s shadow, but then again who wouldn’t be? Playing alongside Lionel Messi is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, you get to play alongside a once in a generation player; on the other hand, the spotlight will never be on you (just ask Xavi and Iniesta). No matter how much you shine, you can’t outshine a supernova like Leo Messi.

David Villa has been dealing with this in a remarkable way and has actually taken advantage of playing with Messi. He won’t win any individual awards, but that’s not why he was signed, and also not what he’s after. He was signed to improve the team and he has been doing just that. He was very quick to gel with Leo Messi and Pedro and the trio are proving to be an even more deadly attacking force than their 2008/2009 counterparts (Messi, Henry and Eto’o). So far, they have scored a combined 66 goals (33 Messi, 17 Pedro, 16 Villa) and there seems to be no stopping them: the 100-goal mark is almost sure to be beaten and, despite sharing the goals with Messi and Pedro, Villa is still on pace to his most prolific season ever.

Villa and Barcelona is truly a match made in heaven. El Guaje is the perfect striker for Barcelona: quick, hugely mobile and the epitome of a team player, with an unmatched on-pitch work ethic. He is also comfortable in every attacking position; even though he’s a born striker, he has been doing great on the wings, where he has been deployed most of the time to accommodate Leo Messi. There’s no doubt that David Villa helped take Pep Guardiola’s Dream Team to yet another level, as highlighted by Barcelona’s recent demolition of Real Madrid in El Clásico, where Villa scored two and assisted one.

Villa was the final piece of Pep Guardiola’s Dream Team puzzle, the striker that it was missing. In return, Barcelona will give Villa the chance of achieving the only trophies missing in his brilliant career: La Liga and the Champions League, as well as a chance to be remembered as a key member of a side that will go down as one of the best of all-time.

He definitely deserves it, after being extremely underrated for most of his career. The truth is that, whether it was Saragoza, Valencia or the Spanish National Team, he always delivered with brilliance. In fact, he was the main striker of the Spanish national team that won both the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010, and he was the top scorer in both competitions.

He’s playing at the same high level at Barcelona and, even though he’s already 29, he has everything to become a Barcelona legend.

The blaugrana couldn’t possibly have made a better signing. No player in the world would have been a better fit.

David Villa has been so impressive that a certain Swedish flop he came to replace is now a distant, fading memory for the blaugrana faithful. What was his name again?