Arguably La Liga’s biggest under-achievers last term will be hoping for better this time around. Read on for our Villarreal season preview for 2019-20 as the Yellow Submarine look to get back to pushing for a top six position.
Last Season – 14th
Following five top six finishes on the spin, Villarreal spent virtually all of last term in the bottom six and looked in serious relegation danger at one point. They sacked coach Javi Calleja in December only to re-hire him the following month and ultimately there was some method in the madness as Villarreal pulled clear to beat the drop with relative comfort in the end. Overall though, it was still a bitterly disappointing campaign for a club that has been European regulars over the past two decades.
Villarreal Transfers ahead of 2019/20
Rubén Peña – €8m from Eibar
Raúl Albiol – €5m from Napoli
Moi Gómez – €1.3m from Sporting Gijon
Alberto Moreno – FREE from Liverpool
André Zambo Anguissa – LOAN from Fulham
Pablo Fornals – €28m to West Ham
Roberto Soriano – €7.5m to Bologna
Nicola Sansone – €7.5m to Bologna
Denis Cheryshev – €6m to Valencia
Ruben Semedo – €4.5m to Olympiakos
Victor Ruiz – €2.5m to Besiktas
Javi Fuego – FREE to Sporting Gijon
Alfonso Pedraza – LOAN to Real Betis
Dani Raba – LOAN to Huesca
Alvaro Gonzalez – LOAN to Marseille
Daniele Bonera – RETIRED
(Transfers up to 14th July 2019)
Coach – Javier Calleja
Javier Calleja’s 2018/19 season was a bizarre one as he was dismissed after a poor start to the campaign only to return 50 days later. He still clearly divides opinion to some extent at Villarreal and having already been sacked once, he will be under pressure to deliver much more this time around. Having previously worked with the club’s youth ranks, he is on the surface a good fit for a club that boasts one of the best academies in Spain but their consistent policy of selling the club’s brightest young talents makes his job a tough one with Pablo Fornals the latest star name to depart.
Possible Villarreal Team Next Season
With a week to go until the new season, Villarreal are operating on a net transfer profit of around €40m and we may see a few late arrivals to bolster a depleted squad over the next few weeks. However they are still set to start the new campaign with a number of new faces.
The defence was a major weakness last term and they have been quick to address that over the summer with their most notable signings all designed to help stem the flow of goals. A host of defenders have been shown the door, making way for Alberto Moreno and Rubén Peña who both should slot into the team in the full-back positions although Mario Gaspar will be hoping to keep his place on the right. Raúl Albiol returns to La Liga after six seasons with Napoli and will bring experience in central defence with Ramiro Funes Mori his most likely partner despite an underwhelming campaign.
Javier Calleja chopped and changed his formation at times last season and may again experiment a bit with the shape of his midfield. André Zambo Anguissa has joined on loan from Fulham and could come into a defensive midfield role to help give the new-look back four some extra protection. Vicente Iborra may partner him having been one of Villarreal’s most consistent performers last term and that should free up Santi Cazorla to float around and provide the main source of creativity in this side.
The forward options are again Carlos Bacca, Gerard Moreno and Karl Toko Ekambi. It may be two from three if they decide to go 4-4-2 but Ekambi may be utilised in a wider role in a 4-3-3 with Fornals no longer at the club. Villarreal have at least managed to hang onto another of their highly promising young stars in the shape of Samuel Chukwueze who should operate on the right flank.
Key Man – Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla was Villarreal’s star performer last term. On a personal level it was a dream return to the club after an injury nightmare in England and his performances were rightly rewarded by an international recall after four years away from the Spanish national team. He’ll be hoping for more support from his teammates this time around though.
One to Watch – Samuel Chukwueze
Good to be back with the team ????❤️? pic.twitter.com/gdrlQQKplh
— Samuel chukwueze (@chukwueze_8) August 6, 2019
Samuel Chukwueze burst onto the scene last season and was one of the few bright sparks in a poor campaign. With a bit of experience under his belt for club and country now, Chukwueze will be under more pressure to deliver consistently this season but he certainly has all the raw ingredients to be one of Villarreal’s biggest weapons again.
Villarreal 2019-2020 Targets
While they may not have spent big, Villarreal’s salary budget is still considerably larger than a number of sides that finished well above them last season and much more will be expected this time around. A European push will be the objective but clearly they need to improve in several areas of the pitch if they are to achieve that.
Villarreal season preview via Mark Sochon
Contact: marksochon(at)hotmail.co.uk | @marksoc1 on Twitter