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Central defenders in big demand: what does this mean for Villarreal?

Musacchio appearing for Argentina
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Bailly gone for close to €40m, now Mateo Musacchio apparently in the shop window for €25m+. It seems crazy, but Villarreal, having qualified for the Champions League playoff round, and having done so thanks largely to a strong back four, could have to rebuild those central positions in the course of a few weeks.

The merry-go-round at CB is continuing, and prices are escalating. Juventus are at the center of it; they have rebuffed a bid for €50m+ for Leonardo Bonucci, they are interested in bringing in Mehdi Benatia from Bayern. They also have a young defender, Daniele Rugani, who might be willing to move if Bonucci stays and Benatia comes in.

Marcelino Garcia Toral’s success at developing young centerbacks, and Villarreal’s success at finding young centerbacks for him to develop, is no secret. Arsene Wenger purchased Gabriel Paulista from us in January 2015 for a big profit. Eric Bailly was purchased by Man United for €38-40m, easily the biggest transfer fee we’ve received. And now Musacchio may go for €25m+, in spite of missing the first half of last season with a horrific ankle break.

The problem is, what can we do to replace him? Villarreal is not going to table a €50-60m bid for Bonucci; we tried to get Diego Llorente from Real Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane killed that move.

The worrying aspect is that the Villarreal front office, rather than holding firm to the €50m release clause for Musacchio, has essentially said the rumors “are just rumors at this point”, a denial which is not really a denial. If indeed Musacchio leaves, whether for €25m, €30m, whatever—the price is not really the issue. What is the issue is that we will have a makeshift centerback pairing in the most important matches we have played in the last few years, as far as money goes. Victor Ruiz is unavailable, N’Diaye (who is supposed to sign tomorrow once his medical is done) has hardly played at CB, and Daniele Bonera is willing but creaky.

Maria José Segovia

I have to believe Villarreal’s front office was surely aware of the possibility Musacchio could (a) receive offers from elsewhere (b) want to move, after being at Villarreal since 2009—especially since last summer Tottenham attempted to sign him but we did not yet own 100% of his rights. But finding a replacement at this point....