A big summer of transfers to report. Lots of arrivals and departures along with some new staff arrivals to report.
It’s best starting with these as they tend to explain where gaps in the squad are and what needs plugging.
Victor Ruiz and Jonathan dos Santos both requested to leave due to lack of game time. Their departures brought in money reflective of their value to the team. New signings were now ahead of both players.
Mariano Barbosa, Miguel Bañuz and Javi Espinosa had all seen their contracts expire and were made available for free. Espinosa was the only player to have played any first team games out of the three. Espinosa was snapped up in January with a contract offer from Deportivo.
Mario improved last term, but I was offered a deal worth £17.25m plus add-ons which make the deal worth £18.75m. He was valued at £8.25m, so sticking to my rules, he had to go. Great money and I already have an able replacement in the squad. I would need someone to challenge San Emeterio for a first team spot though. Disappointing to see Mario leave as he’s homegrown and was one of the few leaders in the squad.
Mateo Musacchio was one I’d have liked to keep and I did really struggle with this one, but again, a big bid meant I had to accept. £17.25m was almost three times his actual value, but £4m of that fee went to River as part of an earlier negotiated sell-on clause.
Bruno was ageing and not getting games with Weigl and Rodri ahead of him. He didn’t want to leave, but at 32, it was my last chance to really make any money from him. I’m not sentimental when it comes to older players. £450k to Inter was a decent deal. I’ll need to figure out who’s going to take his place as captain now as my other departures have robbed me of obvious replacements. The young squad makes it a difficult choice.
Jaume Costa was one I had to think about. I was on the lookout for a new left back. As good as he is, he always seemed to be easily beaten in games. It wasn’t a great deal at £2.7m, but I wanted to ship him out, it was as good as I could get.
The next two deals were the toughest to do as both players had brought real quality to the club.
Gerónimo Rulli only joined us last season on a free. I put it to my “transfer committee” and really thought about rejecting the £27m offer as it didn’t meet double his value. I was advised not to sell. However, I put my rational head on. £27m is not an offer that Villarreal would ever reject, especially he was signed for free. I’d rejected an earlier offer from Juventus which made Rulli throw his toys out of the pram. I had already identified a replacement when the earlier bid had come in. Before the bid was accepted, I had already signed my replacement keeper, I’ll get to him in the arrivals section.
Carlos was the biggest loss of the window. My player of the year for the past two seasons and a very reliable source of goals/assists. When Munich come knocking, it’s hard to say no. He asked for a new contract when I knocked back their first offer, but he wanted a huge rise in wages that I couldn’t bend over for. He had a £26.5m release clause in his contract. I negotiated a deal worth up to £31.5m. I signed him for £4.8m, so it’s a massive profit on him. A transfer you’d expect to see at a club like Villarreal. It’s going to be tough to replace his attacking contribution. A deal was being worked on in the background to hopefully fill the void.
Jorge was the first signing I tied up when the season ended. With Ruiz wanting to leave, it made sense to get a new central defender in. I suspected Jovanovic and Bailly would be my first choice pairing, so a good young Spaniard fitted the bill perfectly. My scouts have given this guy a good review and to me, he looks like he could develop nicely. Some work to do, but he’s tall, strong and composed. The rest should come with game time. At £1.6m, it was a no risk transfer.
Lenny Vallier was next in the door as a replacement for the transfer listed Jaume Costa. At 18 years old, this guy has a very bright future ahead of him. Will operate as a support full back on the left side. Again, some work to do to really develop, but I have no doubt that he can really turn into a great player. One I’d certainly never heard of before now. £6m was maybe a bit over what I wanted to pay, but the alternatives were nowhere near this good. Will compete with Marin for the left back spot.
Christian Manea has been on my shortlist since the first season at Villarreal. He was being chased by about ten of the very best teams in Europe, including the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Man United. I didn’t suspect I’d be able to land him. His wages are perhaps a bit steep, but with Mario leaving, I needed strength and depth at right back. I’ve got two very good young options in that position now. £4.5m wasn’t a bad fee either. Looking at his attributes, as he ages, I suspect he could play in the middle of defence as well.
Lasse Vigen Christensen was a player I considered signing last summer before I bought Iver Fossum. His contract ran down at Fulham and was therefor available on a Bosman free. Only 22, he can play any of my three central midfield roles. His versatility will be invaluable and he can push Weigl and Fossum for a place in the first team. No fee makes it a really good deal.
Diego Llorente was signed as a replacement for Mateo Mussachio. I have four young centre backs and I’ll need to switch them in and out to try and find the best pairing. Llorente played 32 games for Real Betis last season and performed quite well in a team that finished 15th. Has some good attributes, can pass the ball well and read the game quite well for a youngster. Physically, he’s not bad either. Can fill in at right back if there are injuries or suspensions. Cost me £4.5m.
Pedrag Rajkovic joined two days before Rulli left. I signed him before I was 100% certain I was going to let Rulli leave. I had two options for a replacement goalkeeper, Rajkovic was one and the other strong option was Sergio Rico of Sevilla. Rico’s fee was the only thing that put me off. I’m trying to keep all transfers under £10m and a deal for Rico would’ve broke the bank, despite the amount of money raised from Rulli’s departure. Rajkovic is still young, his goalkeeping attributes are really quite good and he’s a player that can definitely improve with games. Only managed 11 clean sheets last season, but I’m hoping for an improvement on that this season. My third goalkeeper in as many years. Hopefully this one sticks about. £4m was a bargain I think.
Daley Sinkgraven has also been on the shortlist for a while and was a player I had looked at around the time I signed Stendera. He’d just signed for Swansea at the time, so it was a non-starter. With Carlos leaving, I needed someone to play right midfield. I use a wide midfielder setup very much as an inside forward. Sinkgraven has good playmaking abilities, is left footed and is very intelligent for his young age. Will need to add a couple of aspects to his game to be really good in that role, but I’m confident he’ll be able to do that. Has the ability to play in attacking midfield as well as on the left. There were a few teams chasing him and I was really worried I was going to miss out on what I think is the perfect Carlos replacement. I don’t think he’ll add as many goals, but I’m thinking his distribution to others will bump numbers up elsewhere. £10m makes him my most expensive signing since I joined. Hoping to be proven that it was money well spent.
Overall, it’s been a rather busy transfer window with a rather high turnover of players. Seven arrivals and eleven departures. We spent a third of what we made in transfer fees, which is rather excellent.
Not technically a transfer, however, an arrival is an arrival. Three new coaching spots opened up and I decided to fill them. We needed enforcing in certain areas.
Raúl José actually arrived as assistant manager last season, but I never found the right time to mention him. He replaced the outgoing Yves Colleu. I found José to be a better fit for my backroom team. His personality and attributes tie in perfectly with what I’m trying to do.
José Sambade arrives to supplement my current goalkeeping coach, Silvino Louro. Sambade was one of the coaches I considered when I initially joined, but Louro seemed the better option at the time.
Javi Baraja is a coach I’ve signed in the past for other clubs. He’s rather versatile, which is quite handy. He can be moved around onto different training roles, so that will be useful. Will be mainly working as an attacking coach to start with.
Valter Vio is my final coaching addition. Will work alongside Amoruso to look after the defensive side of things. Again, quite a versatile coach with great attributes.