June 17 was the anniversary of the first match played at El Madrigal, but it was also one of the busier days in recent transfer windows as far as Villarreal CH was concerned. First came news that young French keeper Alphonse Areola was joining us on loan from PSG. There was no official confirmation, but a picture was leaked that showed the traditional pose with a Villarreal shirt, together with a handshake from Sr. Roig Negueroles in the other. This is strictly a one-year loan, no purchase option, but with Sergio Asenjo on the shelf, Areola becomes our immediate #1.
What was interesting in this deal? Well, first, it proved that reading between the lines of a Sr. Roig Negueroles interview did glean some useful information. Remember when he was asked about our keeper search on Radio Vila-real? When the names we'd supposedly been chasing were Andres from Osasuna and Rulli from La Real? He said we were hoping to sing someone "from a major European league"--read, not necessarily La Liga--and so it has come to pass.
Secondly, our business dealings with French clubs have been few and far between--Florian Lejeune from Stade Brestois to Villarreal B is all that comes to mind in the last few years--so, as Ligue 1 seems to be regressing a bit, could we be looking there for more bargains? We'll have to see.
And then, there was the arrival of the two "Samus". Srs. Samu Garcia and Castellejo did indeed take a flight from Malaga to Valencia's Manises airport, picked up their luggage (being photographed all the while) and then headed off to Vila-real to take their medicals, and signed five-year contracts the next day. I haven't seen a Malaga fan yet who had anything other to say than these guys are standouts; if the €16m is true, we're committing a lot of money to two young players, but they already have a host of admirers like Mourinho and Cholo Simeone so the upside is huge.
The departure--long rumored, and presumably we'll eventually find out why it took so long--was Ikechukwu Uche, who is now in Mexico taking his medical ahead of a move to Tigres. We seem to be developing good relationships with Liga MX clubs; Espericueta came to us on loan from Tigres, but he didn't settle in Vila-real, while we sent Jeff Montero to Morelia (and ex-amarillo Marco Ruben played for Tigres too, but didn't come there directly from us).
We already know Leo Baptistao's loan from Atleti, and Vietto's transfer there, is essentially done, but we're waiting to see if Atleti receives any sort of transfer ban before announcing it. So where does that leave us?
(1) striker: Jonathas? Chicharito?
(2) central defender: we've offered €2.5m for Ruiz.
(3) The Cheryshev saga: will he? won't he? What will Madrid decide?
(4) our loanees: are any returning, are any departing for good, or are we spinning the wheel and sending them on loan again? (Almeria--now in the Segunda--apparently want Espinosa again).
(5) Another attacking midfielder--Bruno from Red Bull?
(6) The dos Santos brothers--will we have both, one, or none next season?
And hey, whatever happened to Javier Camuñas? Just kidding.