Our main transfer target (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The Santi Cazorla era at Villarreal is over, and I don't know of many players who have recived the outpouring of affection Santi has, including this tribute from Juan Carlos Garrido on his website:
Villarreal's sale of Santi Cazorla ranks ninth on the all-time "transfer of Spanish players" list, and with €20m cash in hand the team is now redoubling its efforts to bring in more players as soon as possible.
Javi Mata reports the club would like to bring in three players with (some, at least) of the Cazorla money, and the primary goal is of course Sergio Canales. EPM reports that the "Operación Canales" is well underway, and that Villarreal could end up working some sort of two-year loan which could be a very attractive option depending on what sort of terms can be worked out with Real Madrid concerning his ultimate ownership.
Guardado and Lafita have also been mentioned, but with Borussia Dortmund apparently willing to pay €7million for the Mexican winger, Villarreal would probably be content to keep that money in their pocket. I keep wondering about Ricky Drenthe, who Madrid still need to do something with. But clearly Canales is the key man Villarreal wants.
Yesterday it was widely reported that Borja Valero would miss ten days of training after an injury. Either the man has really quick recovery powers, or the news was widely inaccurate, because he tweeted earlier today that he was fine and participated in the morning training session.
As for players leaving, of course one effect of the Santi departure is that since Villareal went on record as being willing to sell ONE star in the offseason, and has now done so, speculation about Rossi, Nilmar and Borja Valero can now cease. Some media outlets (and other teams) seem to have gotten this message, especially in the case of Rossi, whose agent was told Villarreal would not sell him. It appears Juventus may have gotten the message.
However, that has not stopped other stories such as this one (from goal.com, naturally) suggesting Roma may bid €14m for Nilmar! I don't think so, guys! Nor is Borja Valero going to be sold to Atletico Madrid, now that they have sold Kun Aguero--one report had that money being spent on Negredo and Borja. Dani Osvaldo looking likely though. I still think they should have swapped surly Argentines and taken on Carlos Tevez.
The economic crisis being felt around Spain, and within Spanish football, is quite evident, as commercial sponsorships for clubs (other than Barca and Real Madrid, of course) are proving harder to come by. Villarreal still has no shirt sponsor, and although I don't know what the terms of the previous Puma deal were, €1m a year to Villarreal from Xtep for the right to supply their products to Villarreal strikes me as a fairly small deal.
Villarreal B defeated the Valencian side Atletico Saguntino 3-1 yesterday in a friendly (2 goals from Airam, one from new singing Pedro Vázquez); they play Hércules this Saturday in another friendly.
Finally, the first legs of the penultimate Champions League qualifier were played over the last two days; no team scored more than two goals in any of them (typical) but Rubin Kazan look to be the big winners with a 2-0 away win at Dinamo Kiev. Benfica and FC Twente both won 2-0 at home (both Tukkers' goals from Mac Janko) and Panathanikos and Zurich both have to feel good about their chances after 1-1 draws on the road against Odense and Standard Liege, respectively.
As always, thanks for reading, comments are always welcome. Endavant Villarreal!