Negotiations weren't completed Monday as expected, but Malaga and Villarreal are very close to agreement on the sale of Cazorla to the Andalusians. The team has two training sessions today and Santi acknowledged after the first one that a sale was imminent, though not yet completed.
The terms of the deal are still unclear. Papers quoting Málaga sources have stated Villarreal is receiving €20m up front with another €2m in variables; this is at variance with reports quoting Villarreal sources that suggested the deal both included more money up front and a larger sum in total. I guess we will have to wait for a Villarreal statement, which has not yet been forthcoming and probably won't be until the deal is finally signed and Santi is on his way.
According to Javi Mata on Punta Radio last night, Villarreal was still holding out for €25m. Mata made the following points:
(1) Sr. Roig feels the economic crisis in Spain, and Spanish football, is likely to get worse, not better. (I interpret this to mean the market for selling players will get worse, and Roig feels borrowing money to improve the team is not a good idea in this climate)
(2) Villarreal announced at the beginning of the summer it was willing to sell one of its stars, but only one
(3) The club never received an offer for Rossi close to his perceived value, and none came close to the €30m cash Villarreal demanded upfront (Mata said €15m cash upfront was the highest offer received)
(4) A sale of Santi for anything approaching the €25m Villarreal demanded would allow the team to sign a couple of players, still have money, and be able to live within its means while being competitive on the pitch, in a way a sale of Rossi for the amounts offered would not.
Needless to say, this analysis has not gone down well with many supporters, especially those who have followed the club for many years and have seen Santi progress through the cantera to become a Spanish international. It's understandable that he has a closer emotional tie to the fanbase than Rossi, so some fans have suggested Rossi should have been sold instead, but I think the real issue is why are we selling anyone at this point.
And the other issue is why sell to a team that is your direct rival for a CL place next year? Evidently because they have cash to pay, but it's surprising that cash upfront is such a driver for Villarreal at this point.
Javi Mata stated on Radio Vila-real this afternoon (Spanish time) that Sr. Roig needs to sit down and explain to the fans why exactly it was so necessary to sell Santi. Are the economic pressures that severe? I believe I heard Mata correctly when he said it was the most upset he'd seen people in 15 years of covering Villarreal.
And I think this is really the problem: the fans feel as though the club wasn't honest with them. Everything the club said through the Gala was that next year we would have a (slightly) bigger budget, we would continue to improve. Nothing was said about battening down the hatches and needing to sell one of our stars.
It's true that Manuel Pellegrini really wanted Santi and wanted him badly. And clearly Santi was willing to move to play for his former coach, and double his salary in doing so. I understand the team doesn't want to criticize a former coach or soon-to-be former player. But I think Villarreal has a real PR problem here because they've let Malaga run the show in the press. Hopefully Sr. Roig does sit down, explain what the deal actually is, and why it needed to be done. And also, it would help if some of the money was used to improve the team. Which brings us to rumors.
Sergio Canales, to no one's surprise, is the name featuring most prominently among possible replacements, with Andrés Guardado from Depor and Ángel Lafita (Real Zaragoza) also being mentioned this morning by Mata. (I think we had been linked with Lafita once a few weeks ago, but it's the first time I've heard Guardado mentioned).
As for left back, the name being thrown around now is Venezuela's left back Gabriel Cichero, who had been with Newell's Old Boys in Argentina but is currently without a team. I haven't seen much of him--has anyone?
We'll update this post if/when a final deal is concluded and we actually learn the terms.