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Former Barcelona forward David Villa says he was “90% certain he would sign for Arsenal” before the move fell through and he joined Atletico Madrid.
Arsenal were linked with a move for the Spain World Cup winner in January 2013 before then-Gunners boss Arsene Wenger revealed Barcelona did not want to sell.
Six months later, Villa joined Atletico for one season before moving to New York City for four seasons. He retired from playing last December at the age of 38 after a season in Japan playing for Vissel Kobe.
“We were in a lot of meetings and a lot of calls,” Villa told Spanish football expert Guillem Balague for BBC Sport.
“I felt 90% in that moment that I [would] go to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
“But in that moment we didn’t arrive to the deal, Atletico Madrid arrived and in three or four days fixed everything.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I’d signed for Arsenal. I’m very happy that I signed for Atletico Madrid, not just for winning the league but for everything. I’m very happy to have made that choice.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Balague, Villa discusses his love for the Premier League, playing with Lionel Messi, working under Pep Guardiola and why he would have liked to have played for Jose Mourinho.
During a highly successful playing career, Villa won three La Liga titles – two with Barcelona and one with Atletico Madrid – and enjoyed one Champions League triumph in 2011.
He scored a record 59 goals for Spain, helping his country win Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
Throughout his career Villa was linked with a number of Premier League teams including Chelsea and Liverpool. So why did he not play in England?
“I love the Premier League. In my career I always watched a lot of games in the Premier League,” he said.
“I always thought about going there one time, but in the moment that all these offers arrived to me or to my agent, I made another decision. Why? I don’t know.
“Many times I had the opportunity to go there, but I chose another way.”