This is a bit of a catchup post--I have been away dealing with family matters, and Sid and Ravi have the dual pressures of work and planning weddings!
We knew going in to the summer we needed to sell in order to bring in, and apart from Bruno, Musacchio, and Gio, pretty much everyone seemed to be theoretically available. Unfortunately, some of the players (Jony Pereira, for instance) have a limited market appeal, and others (Uche) were shopped, but potential suitors took other players instead (including our old friend Marco Ruben, who went to Tigres on loan from Dynamo Kyiv). So, Jérémy Perbet was the one to go. We don't know for how much, but I would guess around €3m.
Many of us feel badly about this, because Jérémy has scored wherever he's gone, and he was a key player in our promotion in 2012-13. It was a bit of a strange deal, too, because he ended up going to a club in Turkey (Istanbul Basaksehir) that was newly promoted to the Turkish top flight--I can't even characterize this as a lateral move. Clearly, he was not in Villarreal's plans for 2014-15, was told to find a new club, and one has to ask why.
I suspect part of it is that for all his skills--his finishing, to be sure--he was not a player who totally fit into our style of play. He scored some great goals, but he also went missing in games. Marcelino clearly wants a squad full of fast players, and Uche fits better into this mold than does Perbet. At this point, it appears we are again looking at a group of rotating strikers (Uche, Jony, Gerard, Gio) rather than a star, everyday starter. I'm not sure I see that as an improvement.
Where I do find reason for optimism is some of our signings--Antonio Rukavina gives us some depth at right back, coming in on a free from Real Valladolid and signing a two-year deal with us. We've also dipped into Barcelona's reserves to come up with Jonathan dos Santos (€1.5m) and Javier Espinosa (free). I'm not sure how the dynamic with two brothers playing together will work out--it could be really good, or not so much--but Jonathan is certainly a dynamic player, if he can remain healthy.
Espinosa is a young (21 year-old) central midfielder who offers us some depth in the pivote as well as backup at right midfield. J dos Santos is clearly someone who can come into the pivote with Bruno, Trigueros, Pina; he's really a central midfielder rather than anyone who can go to the wing.
We also obtained Denis Cheryshev on loan from Real Madrid. Like Jonathan, he's a player whose career has been affected by injury, but is still quite young. He can play on both wings (prefers the left), and if you remember Marcelino's first game in charge, the 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Real Madrid Castilla, Cheryshev was the player who just shredded Javi Venta-- time after time after time. Venta went to the bench, and never returned.
With the departures of loanees Oliver (to Porto) and Juan Roman (no idea), we have a slightly larger squad than a year ago.
Still to move somewhere, in order of certain to least certain:
Jonathan de Guzman: presumably to Swansea on a permanent deal for €8m or so?
Alexsandar Pantic: a loan deal, to Deportivo perhaps?
Javier Aquino: Rayo apparently want him on loan. Would he actually see that many minutes this season for us, with all the new midfielders on offer? Of course, you could also ask the same question about Tomas Pina or Moi Gomez. I could see the former being sold, or the latter loaned.
What do we need? Another central defender, it seems to me. Gabriel is raw, Dorado injury-prone, and iñiguez missed most of last season. And if we could land an everyday striker, probably another loanee, that would free up Jony to move, and possibly Uche as well if it were a big upgrade. Enner Valencia was one name we tossed about, but is he worth €15m?? Not hardly, but that s what West Ham will pay for him.
There has been talk of a Chicharito loan, or even Joel Campbell--those sound like fun. I look at the money being tossed around by EPL clubs for the big names (Vidal, Alexis Sanchez) and realize how lucky we were to get a couple of years of Forlan at his prime, not to mention Rossi. It's harder than ever to catch lightning in a bottle these days.
Hey, the new kit-- still waiting to see if the numbers are as funky as last year. Guess we won't know until the friendlies start. I like the red third kit though.