Barcelona striker David Villa has broken his left shinbone in the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final against Al Sadd. The 30-year-old was carried off on a stretcher six minutes before half-time after appearing to land awkwardly.
The Catalan club confirmed soon after on their website, www.fcbarcelona.cat, that Spain's all-time record scorer had "suffered a fracture to the tibia in his left leg". Barça coach Pep Guardiola said after the match: "He will now travel to Barcelona as soon as possible. He will be greatly missed as a colleague and as a player. I hope everything goes well. He will be a long time. It's a big blow to the team. We just hope that he can play again as soon as possible.
"David is very dear to us. The injury has saddened us all. Everyone can put themselves in his place and know how they would suffer if it happened to them. They feel for him. We must accept it and encourage him in his recovery."
Guardiola insisted now was not the time to discuss January reinforcements in the light of Villa's absence. "Let us have compassion and respect," he said. "Let's give it time. Now is not the time to talk about it." Sports newspaper Marca claimed the player was ready to move on from Barça just 19 months into the four-year deal agreed following his €40m transfer from Valencia. The speculation over the Spain international's future appears to have sprung from Guardiola's decision to omit the forward from his starting line-up for Saturday's 3-1 Clasico victory against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Speaking to reporters in Japan ahead of the Al Sadd game, Guardiola claimed: "I have not spoken to David after the last match in Madrid, but all of the players are in my plans. I am the one who comes up with 25 different line-ups during the season because I feel that is the best thing to do. Most of the players that are here now will continue for the rest of this season and the next.''
Villa has scored five times in 15 La Liga matches this season, following on from his 18 goals in 34 games as Barça won the league title last term. He has made 75 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 32 goals.