Villarreal have bid farewell to Tomas Pina. The defensive midfielder has been sold to Club Brugge in Belgium for a fee around €3 to 3.5 million and will sign a four-year deal there.
Pina's arrival was a bit of an unusual one in that he came with Gio dos Santos in a package deal from Mallorca. At the time it was said that was done so Mallorca could keep more of the transfer fee--who knows, but who would have guessed that Pina would have lasted longer in Villarreal than Gio?
The man from La Mancha was always sort of a divisive figure among Villarreal fans. As a defensive midfielder, he didn't tend to offer a lot of offensive support, his passes often being of the short, square variety. And most of his yellow cards (23 over 3 years, plus a red) seemed to come for late tackles from behind. But at the same time, he did provide solidity in midfield and was a good player to bring on to help control a match where we were ahead.
It was pretty clear he wanted to leave, having played 90 minutes in only 12 matches this season, 19 starts and 27 appearances overall. He had made 34 starts for Mallorca in 2012-13, but barely equalled that in his last two years in yellow. He's 28 now, and to be honest, after three years we pretty much knew what we had, I guess, or at least didn't see a bigger role for him next season. Villarreal had wanted him to go to Betis as part of a deal for N'Diaye, but that didn't happen. Instead he's heading for Belgium and Club Brugge.
Bruges will be playing in the Champions League, which should be nice, and Pina will also get to play domestically against ex-Villarreal man Jeremy Perbet, who recently joined Gent. I suspect Pina will do OK in Belgium. He'll always be remembered for his goal (yes, it may have been a cross, but it went in!) against Napoli that enabled us to progress in this year's Europa League.
Farewell, Tomás, and good luck from Villarreal USA.