Villarreal’s first transfer news of the 2014 offseason, and it’s significant. After a protracted negotiation with the La Liga champions and Champions League runners-up (how weird is that to write?), Villarreal has reached a permanent deal with Atlético Madrid for goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. Financial terms remain a mystery, but Asenjo has signed a five-year deal.
Instant impact: Asenjo was fifth in the Zamora rankings last year, so he’s a quality keeper. When healthy, that is, and that will be Villarreal’s biggest challenge in making this move a success. Diego Mariño’s additional one-year loan to now Segunda side Real Valladolid makes more sense, but a decision on his future in yellow looms next offseason. Fan favorite Juan Carlos may be on the market if Mariño is also in the long-term mix, and the club may want a more experienced backup.
Also worth noting the connections between Villarreal and Valladolid. With the rumored arrival of a defender (see below), the loan extension of a goalkeeper (see above), and the great relationship between the fans, expect more cross-pollination in the years ahead.
What’s next: The floodgates are now open, both inbound and outbound. The goalkeeper carousel is already in motion, and now we’ll find out about Juan Carlos. Will Ante Rukavina finalize his free transfer to compete with Mario Gaspar at right back? A third signing is also rumored for next week – let’s see whom that may be.
The most likely departures appear to be loans for younger players. Aleksandar Pantic is in high demand, and so would be Pablo Íñiguez and Gerard Moreno if made available. Then there’s the overbooking at striker, with Jony Pereira and either Ikechukwu Uche or Jérémy Perbet viewed as expendable. We must lighten the squad to sign, per ownership and common sense.
Grade: We’ll need the monetary terms to decide, but Asenjo was an immediate leader, upstanding citizen, and quality player. Assuming the fee was around €4 million, which is less than the buyout clause and pack-of-three cost, we’ll give it an A-. If he’s healthy, his stock may fly off the charts – remember that an older Claudio Bravo just merited a €12 million fee to serve as a backup.