May 17, 2010

MADRID (Reuters) -- Spain striker David Villa spent a lot of time dodging questions about his future last summer and is likely to have to do the same again at the World Cup finals in South Africa from next month.

Valencia's leading marksman was on the brink of joining Florentino Perez's new Real Madrid project last June, before his president Manuel Llorente pulled the plug on the deal.

Llorente said he would only sell if the financially-strapped club received a "scandalously" big offer. None seemingly arrived and an unsettled Villa stayed put, but the rumour mill has started running again in recent weeks.

"I'm not going to be waiting expectantly to see what happens. I have learned my lesson," Villa, 28, told Spanish television station Canal 9.

"I have something historic in front of me [a World Cup finals], a once in a lifetime event, something many footballers never get to go to, and I am lucky enough to be going.

"I won't allow myself to think about anything that isn't football related."

Barcelona, who won their second consecutive league title on Sunday, were one of the club's reportedly chasing Villa last year and Spanish media say that interest has been renewed recently.

"I have a four-year contract with Valencia with a big buy-out clause, I'm happy and committed to the project here," Villa added.

"I don't think the club would want to sell me unless it was necessary."

Valencia are still burdened with debts of over 500 million euros and a half-built new stadium while their current one, the Mestalla, is unsold.

Villa's 21 goals helped Valencia to a third-place finish in La Liga and earned them a berth in the lucrative Champions League for next season, which should help boost their coffers.

Before then, Villa will be spearheading Spain's attack in South Africa. He is already the country's second highest scorer of all time with 36 goals from 55 games and is just eight short of record holder Raul. A tournament top scorer award at the World Cup finals to go with the one he won with Spain at Euro 2008, could entice rivals into making that 'scandalously' big offer president Llorente spoke about last year.

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