Ah, summer. The time of the year where in a lot of countries, temperatures shoot up, people take vacation, and the beach takes protagonism. In this sport, summer means teams are buying and selling everyone, rumors never end, and there are always surprises. Ask Carlo in Madrid. Or ask James Rodriguez in Everton, who saw Carlos himself convince him to join the English team from Real Madrid, to then watch the manager himself go back to the capital of Spain.
Life happens, James.
Let’s go through what we are hearing from local outlets in terms of players coming in, potentially, likely or confirmed, to Vila-real.
- Aissa Mandi will join the club once his contract is up, and the transfer is all but confirmed. The Argelian center back joins on a free and will fight for a spot in the defense in a year that will feature 55+ matches. Aissa will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself, especially with Albiol turning 36 in September. He played basically everything for Betis this season, starting in 30 matches for Pellegrini all the way up to when the transfer leaked.
- With the center of the defense covered unless there are exits, the club is looking first for a left winger, and a striker. Beyond that, transfers out will determine transfers in. On the left side, there are a few names being printed out: Guedes at Valencia, who has made clear his desire to leave the capital of the Valencian Community, and could see a move to Champions League’s Villarreal as a good one. Others, like Udinese’s Deulofeu, or Amine Harit, from now-relegated Schalke 04, are in the cards.
- Fulham’s Andre-Zambo Anguissa is also being rumored as a possibility for the midfield. Even though we are overloaded in this position, the Cameroonian wants to leave a team that is now officially in the Championship in England, but the cost of over 20 Million Euros is a roadblock. Unless there is a negotiation, the cost will be too high, again, with plenty of options on midfield.
- In the striker position, the Bakambu option is still top of mind. The 30-year-old has made clear he wants to come back to Vila-real, even talking to the Managing Director Fernando Roig Negueroles and telling him he wanted to “Come back to Vila-real and become the club’s top overall scorer.” Cedric ends his contract with Beijing Guoan in six months, and the Chinese club is trying to get some money out of the transfer before that happens–but is attempting a 40 Million Euro operation, which is unrealistic for a player, again, ending his contract in 180 days. Regardless, the striker is a real option for Villarreal.
- Something that came to light yesterday is interest from several teams, Villarreal included, for Spanish right back Hector Bellerin. The 26-year-old is interested in leaving London, and a return to Spain could be an option. The Spaniard makes around 6 Million Euros per season, something completely out of market for Villarreal, but especially if Peña leaves and Hector is willing to take a cut in his paycheck, the transfer could be an option. Personally, his injury record is a problem for me (he’s missed 45 matches in the past three seasons), especially with Alberto Moreno showing us what can happen to a player who tends to get injured (very few appearances in two years), but Hector would be, without a doubt, a great player to have.
- Back from loan are coming several players, but only a few are staying with the team this summer. The list of players returning includes Cuenca, Martin, Ontiveros, Morlanes, Franquesa, and others. As of right now, Cuenca is the only one who is expected to remain in the first team, and the others are in the air–including Morlanes, a very talented midfielder with a lot of interest in other teams, Almeria in pole position as the team that enjoyed him on loan. The Andalusian club could buy the player through a clause in the loan contract. Almeria considers Morlanes a key player for the team, and will try to keep him for next season. Morlanes also doesn’t have the blessing from Emery to come to the first team 100%, so we could see the 22-year-old from Zaragoza actually leave Vila-real. I personally feel that Manuel can do the job, and should stay here in a season with four competitions. We shall see.
- This week marks the seventh anniversary of the club’s promotion back to the First Division. A season of ups and downs, from the sudden passing of Preciado when he had been already appointed the manager of Villarreal in the project to come back to the top, to the trust Fernando Roig Negueroles, in his first year in charge of the project, put in Marcelino to take the spot and get the team promoted, and to 10,000 fans in Barcelona, taking the Mini Estadi of Barcelona B and all but ensuring promotion through that win.
- Javier Calleja’s Alaves is reportedly interested in both Dani Raba and Ontiveros for the next season in La Liga. The ex-Manager of Villarreal needs to strengthen his team in order not to suffer as much as they did this season to avoid relegation, and these two players could be in the cards for the team from the North of Spain, although the specifics of a loan or transfer would have to be worked out.
- Multiple outlets are now reporting that Ruben Peña and Funes Mori are in the market to be transferred out. Especially the center back, now with Mandi and Cuenca as part of the first team, has a lot of options to leave this summer.
- Yeremy Pino and Raul Albiol are now part of the parallel bubble of the National team of Spain in case more COVID-19 cases become a reality within the first team. One can argue whether waiting in a B-list is good or bad for our players, as they likely will not play but also be unable to take a longer vacation, but I’m sure for folks like Pino, this is a step in the right direction after featuring in the Under-21 team, and for others like Albiol, the reward to an outstanding season.
- Villarreal’s youth team won the Liga Promises last week, the young talent tournament the club hosted, and which united the top youth teams in the country in Vila-real this summer. Villarreal beat Sevilla 0-2 to lift the trophy.