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Bonera signs with Villarreal; we play Servette in UEFA Youth League

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Villarreal has closed its roster with the arrival of Daniele Bonera. The squad numbers have been assigned, too.

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

It nearly got done yesterday by the deadline, but there was no need to rush.  At any rate, Daniele Bonera, a free agent let go by Milan, is our last signing this summer.  He's an experienced central defender, for sure, at age 34.  He's played in Italy all his career, first at Brescia, then Parma, and finally AC Milan, where he was a regular for nine seasons.

Bonera comes to the Submarine essentially to be a fourth center back, with Pablo Iñiguez likely to split time between the B team and the first squad.  Victor Ruiz and Eric Bailly are the preferred center-back pairing at the moment, and Mateo Musacchio is not that far away--a month or so--from being able to return to action.

It's a bit surprising to me that we were willing to release Dorado and loan Pantic, then thought it necessary to bring in a 34 year-old player to fill a center back slot.  Bonera is supposed to be good in the air, is strong, but his pace (or lack thereof) and age are potential concerns.  Plus, as we know from Gonzalo's success in Italy after leaving us, it's easier to survive in Serie A while being relatively slow-footed; La Liga is tougher.

This is not the first time Villarreal has added a defender with lots of experience in the summer; remember, Olof Mellberg was almost 35 when he joined us in August 2012, and he was a regular (admittedly, in the Segunda) for us that season.  Like that signing, it's a move to cover a short-term need, a one-year deal, and we'll see what happens.

The draw for the UEFA Youth League took place this morning.  Villarreal were the first team out of the--well, not exactly hat, those transparent plastic pots UEFA is so fond of.  We play Servette FC of Switzerland; the first leg is around the end of September, the second leg three weeks later.  If we win through, our next opponent will be either Andelecht (Belgium) or Brann (Norway).  I believe it's our Juvenil A team competing in this, yes?

Servette is based in Geneva, and has an unusual distinction: the club has been relegated three times due to bankruptcy, but, until 2013, had never been relegated for sporting performance.  Their first squad currently plays in the third tier of the Swiss league (due to the most recent bankruptcy).  There is a connection with Villarreal, somewhat distant: Sonny Anderson began his European career at Servette (1992-94) and nearly 10 years later spent a season with Villarreal, scoring 13 times in 38 league matches.

Finally, Villarreal has officially released the squad numbers for the coming year, so you can now order your replica shirt...