Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova could be facing the first challenge of his brief managerial career, as he tries and figures out how to play Lionel Messi and David Villa together.
In the loss to Celtic in midweek, Messi coud be seen criticizing Villa on the pitch for shooting on goal instead of passing the ball to him.
Why is that noteworthy? Because it is not the first time it has happened and because it rarely happens as Messi is used to getting the ball whenever he asks for it. Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Alves, Alba and Busquets all understand this. Others like Tello, Cuenca and Alexis have come to accept it after being on the receiving end of Messi’s criticisms.
As the leader of the team, and best player in the world, it is understandably that when Messi wants the ball he gets it. And with 73 goals last season and 18 already this season, Messi has demonstrated time and time again that if Barca give him the ball in dangerous places he will score.
However, David Villa is a centre-forward who is also used to being the player who teammates look to fro the big goal. And he has came through time and time again, whether it has been with Sporting Gijon, Zaragoza, Valencia or the Spanish national team.
Ultimately there cannot be two center forwards playing together, both wanting the ball in critical situations. One has to put his ego aside for the good of the team, and I don’t see that happening here.
Messi finds it hard to co-exist with other centre-forwards. During his time at Barcelona, he’s had trouble coming to an understanding with Eto’o, Ibrahimovic and even Bojan, and they all ended up being sold. If Tito cannot figure out how to get Villa and Messi to co-exist together on the pitch, then expect David Villa to be sold next summer. Because while Villa is a great player. He is not the best player in the world, and keeping Messi happy is part of Vilanova’s job.