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Cani reups until 2017; will he play in the Camp Nou?

Ruben Gracia Calmache, better known to all as Cani, has signed a new contract with Villarreal. He'll be wearing yellow until 2017!

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Cani has been in the news this weekend, for sure. In the first half against Elche he was imperious, but came off injured early in the second half after a clash of knees with an Elche defender. Word was he would miss the match at the Camp Nou, but today he, at least, seems optimistic the injury isn't serious enough to keep him out of the match. With Bruno already missing due to suspension, there's certainly an argument for him playing if available, though the training staff will certainly not want to risk a more serious injury if he has not fully healed. I'm still expecting him to be held out of this one unless he is 100% fit.

Meanwhile, Cani has signed a new contract with the club that keeps him in Vila-real until 2017, at which point he will have played 11 seasons with the club since arriving from Zaragoza for €11m in 2006. At age 31, he looks to be in the best physical shape of his career, and since Marcelino's arrival he has been one of the key players in the squad--contributing some fine goals but also excellent passing--his past to Jony for the winning goal against Almeria in our promotion-clinching game will be long remembered, but that's just one of many.

Partly it's due to the fact that Garrido tended to play him for 60-65 minutes at most, but also, I suppose, due to the presence of so many other gifted players around him, that he's never really gotten as much recognition as he deserves. I remember when his contract was expiring the last time round (2011, I think) we had an article on this site asking if we should renew him or not--he wasn't playing that much or that impressively, and at age 28, was he on a declining trajectory?

The club extended him then, and it's well they did. His performances in the Europa League were great (especially in the second leg against Porto). During our relegation season, he was another player who missed time with injury--about a month, in the first half of the season--and I had forgotten that Lotina (forgive my mention of the name) had not even played him in two of the last home matches of the season, against Racing and Atletico.

Cani was a key part of our promotion season last season, has been a main cog in our offense so far this year. He's never had an international callup, so is less known to casual fans across the globe than someone like Senna, or Santi. With Senna's departure, he's the last remaining link to our 2007-08 subcampeones squad.

Last year, he played more minutes than in any other season (over 2700) and he's on track to eclipse that this year. If he fails to play against Barcelona, it will be the first time this season he hasn't featured as a starter (he's played all but 55 minutes of our first 15 games). Let's hope he makes a quick recovery and gives us plenty more to celebrate in the next three and a half years!