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Vilanova: David Villa staying at Barca

Tito Vilanova says David Villa will not leave Barcelona in January following the 3-1 La Liga victory over Malaga on Sunday.

Villa, 31, has struggled to hold down a first-team berth since returning from a broken leg, and has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move to the English Premier League.

Despite not playing in the win over Malaga at La Rosaleda, Vilanova was delighted with Villa’s two-goal performance in the Copa del Rey triumph over Cordoba last week and felt he demonstrated his worth to the team’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.”

Barca’s latest win saw them set a new record for points gained in the first 19 matches of a Spanish top-flight campaign, the victory at Malaga coming thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara.

And Vilanova praised his players for showing similar form to that of Pep Guardiola’s dynamic first season in charge.

“We are very pleased, 55 points from a possible 57 is amazing,” he said.

“Coming here to Malaga, who had only conceded 13 goals before tonight, and (to) 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 (to) five years ago and that helps.

“It will be difficult to maintain this form with the Champions League coming up. Atletico (Madrid) are only 11 points behind and we still have to go there. We must continue.”

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini was left to rue an errant back-pass from Nacho Camacho, which allowed Messi to break the deadlock and set Barca on their way to victory.

“We didn’t need this game to realise that Barcelona are a big club and it is difficult to beat them, but I think we made a big mistake in the first half which made the game easier for them,” he said.

“We had chances before that and we were comfortable on the field, but a silly mistake let Barcelona lead the game. In the second half they scored their second goal after four minutes so they could play with ease for the rest of the game. I feel we could have done more if we hadn’t made the stupid mistake that led to the first goal.”

Mon 14 January, 2013
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