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Farewell Cani: midfielder is signed by Depor on a free

Rubén Gracia Calmache ("Cani"), signed in 2006 from Zaragoza, has left Villarreal permanently.

David Ramos/Getty Images

To no one's surprise, Rubén Gracia Calmache, better known as "Cani", will not be part of Villarreal's 2015-16 team.  Having been loaned out to Atleti after a bustup of some sort with manager Marcelino, he hadn't practiced with the club at all and it had been rumored for some time he would be joining Deportivo La Coruña.

The Galician side had originally wanted to take Cani on loan, but Cani's existing salary was too high for them, and Villarreal weren't willing to pay part of it.  In the end, Villarreal and Cani rescinded his contract and he signed a new one with Depor for one season, terms unknown.

Cani turns 34 next month, but only played in 13 La Liga matches last season, so has a bit of rust on those legs.

Cani's Villarreal career:  Cani was signed by Villarreal on July 1, 2006 for €11m from Real Zaragoza--a high fee, but Cani had impressed as one of La Liga's best passers.  It took him some time to make his mark, but he was an important part of our 2007-08 "Campeones" team, our 2010-11 Europa League semifinal team (he scored in both legs of the semifinal loss to Porto), and our 2012-13 promotion-winning squad---Jony's goal against Almeria came off a Cani pass.

And yet....Cani was always something of an enigma--at times, he could be a world-beater, at times, he was a petulant player who made little impact on matches.  He was always close to being international level, didn't make it; while other Villarreal players like Borja Valero, Giuseppe Rossi, etc. got a lot of transfer interest, Cani never did.  He averaged just over 2000 minutes most seasons, was often substituted out of matches at around the 75-minute mark.

He remained with the club after relegation and was one of the more public faces of the club during that season, but back in the Primera his playing time dropped back, and this season he only played about 500 minutes in the league.

He'll always be remembered by me for setting up Jony's promotion-clenching goal, his excellent play in the Europa league run, and that goal from the halfway line against Osasuna.  I wish him well with Depor.