Xavi hails Villa return in Barca rout

Xavi hails Villa return in Barca rout

Barcelona midfielder Xavi hailed the long-awaited return of striker David Villa as the best thing about his side’s season-opening 5-1 mauling of Real Sociedad.

Villa made his first competitive appearance since breaking his leg at the end of last year after replacing Pedro in the 75th minute of last night’s game at the Nou Camp, and the striker enjoyed a dream comeback as he scored within nine minutes of his introduction.

Xavi said of the 30-year-old on Canal Plus: “He has suffered a lot, he had a major injury and he is back.

The truth is that the best thing of all is the return of ’Guaje’ Villa.”

Pedro echoed those thoughts, saying: “Villa’s return is the best piece of news of the game. He scored a goal and it’s an absolute joy to have him with us.”

Villa, who missed Spain’s successful defence of their European Championship title this summer because of his injury, was understandably delighted to be back playing again after eight months out and was keen to thank those who helped make it possible.

He said in Sport newspaper: “I’m happy with how the day went, I’ve taken a very important step forward, it was an intensive 20 minutes. Now I need to continue training.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working and I still need to continue working, and enjoying it like I did today. Let’s hope it continues like that.”

He added: “You’re fortunate when so many people help you, it’s difficult to thank them all. I want to extend my gratitude to everyone, without them I would not have managed it.”

Barcelona, meanwhile, were today looking to complete the €19m signing of Arsenal midfielder Alex Song.

The 24-year-old Cameroon international was undertaking his medical with the Primera Division outfit this morning and, if all goes to plan, he will put pen to paper on a five-year contract with Barca later today.

New Barca coach Tito Vilanova, who made his competitive debut in the Nou Camp hotseat last night after replacing Pep Guardiola this summer, said of Song: “He’s a player that gives us a bit of height. He’ll surprise us with his skill, he’s a great player.”

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