Iniesta wants Villa to stay

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has made his opposition to the potential departure of colleague David Villa clear.

Villa, who has started just six of the 12 La Liga games he has featured in this season, was linked with a €14m January move to Champions League holders Chelsea yesterday.

“I do not know if there is a possibility he could leave, I think not,” said Iniesta at a ceremony. “I personally would not like it, because Villa is a key player.”

The ceremony in question saw the 28-year-old receive a hero’s welcome in his hometown Albacete, where the local sports complex was renamed the ‘Andres Iniesta Sports City.’

“It is a very special day for me, and it’s an honour to have my name on this facility. Here I started playing football, and I want to thank Albacete, the city and all the people here for the love they have shown me. When I started playing I didn’t have a facility like this, so I want to send a message to all the kids to take advantage of it and fulfill the dream of being a footballer.”

The La Masia graduate also discussed Tito Vilanova’s health situation and denied that Barca’s winning cycle is coming to a close.

“The news was a shock. But what happened gives us a great inner strength. These things, as [Andoni] Zubizarreta said, humanise the group. We are lucky to do what we love, we live a sensational life, but we are all human and we are exposed to the same things.

“We have been at a very good level for some time. A cycle ends when years pass and you stop winning. During the past year we’ve won four titles. It’s true we failed in the Champions League, but sorry, the Barcelona cycle may continue for several years.”

Tags Iniesta Vilanova Villa