Samu Castillejo was one of Spain's brightest young talents. Samuel García was a revelation last season in La Liga. After a down year for Málaga and with the sheikh's money drying up, the two Samus made their way to Vila-real for a reported €16 million. Not cheap, but seemingly a fair price for two players yet to hit their primes.
But just one goal (from García in La Liga) and four assists (one each from Castillejo and García in La Liga, and two from García in the Europa League) is a meager return to date. Castillejo has logged 1,367 minutes in all competitions, only behind Ruiz, Soldado, Bruno, and Mario among outfield players. García has played just 910 minutes -- averaging barely one half in his appearances (ten starts) -- only ahead of Rukavina among healthy outfield players.
García has not played in the league since November, and Castillejo has not played 90 minutes in the league since mid-November. García was omitted from the squad in jornada 4, and now Castillejo in jornada 18. There's an adaptation period to a new team, but Villarreal has gotten off to a strong start in spite of the two ex-boquerones.
What's behind the current situation? Three points:
- New system. Yes, the Samus thrived under ex-Villarreal player and filial boss Javi Gracia in Málaga. And the Andalusians are a more open side than in years past. But Marcelino's fitness and work rate demands are well-known -- though it seemed the Samus would be a good fit. It's not the same to be a second striker or dynamic winger with a target man in a 4-2-3-1 than a two-way winger and scoring threat in a 4-2-2-2.
- Lack of productivity. Castillejo has received significantly more playing time than his production has merited -- just an assist in jornada 3. García's assists have come against Dinamo Minsk (home and away) and in jornada 2, and his goal followed in jornada 3. And the Samus seemingly have not offered enough defensively to stay on the pitch for entire matches.
- Danger in duos. Villarreal's last dual signing also was a mixed bag: Giovani dos Santos and Tomás Pina for a reported €11 million from relegated nemesis Mallorca in 2013. Gio showed flashes in two seasons but could neither be consistent nor healthy, and he moved on to LA Galaxy in MLS. Pina remains in the doble pivote rotation, but on an off day, he is a yellow card waiting to happen. And the two players' familiarity with each other did not translate into any on-field chemistry.
With a packed fixture list in the next two months, Marcelino undoubtedly will call upon the Samus to better their performances to date. Will Villarreal fans finally see what the scouting department envisioned: Castillejo cutting down the wing and crossing for Samu to finish? The jury is out; let us know your thoughts below.