With the news confirmed that Roberto Soldado is essentially out for the season (best guess is at least six months, and even then he’d have to gradually work his way back into the lineup), Villarreal are left with just three strikers: Bakambu, Sansone and Pato.
Bakambu is also on the shelf and will miss the CL playoffs, Sansone can’t compete in them because he played for Sassuolo in their Europa League playoffs, and Pato is still rounding into shape.
The options are essentially to go out and obtain a striker on the market, ideally someone on loan with a purchase option; however, most clubs are pretty much set with their squad. Still, the transfer window has three weeks to run.
As for the CL playoff, I would think even if someone came in, they would be unlikely to start given such little preparation time. Expect Trigueros to play as a second striker with Pato—there really aren’t very many other options.
Champions league regulations
Could Villarreal register a new player before Thursday, if they signed a striker?
The answer is yes; according to section 43.08 of the regulations, one player can be added 24 hours before the first leg of the playoff match in question, as long as they have not played for another side in the CL or EL qualifying rounds this season. Note however that if a player is purchased between the first and second leg of the playoffs, they can’t be added for the second leg—so the front office has to do their work very quickly!
If Villarreal drops into the Europa League, is Sansone eligible?
Again, yes. The regulation in question (section 42.07) states a player may participate in the playoff rounds of a competition for one team, then register in the group stage with another.
Does it matter if the player actually appeared on the pitch or not?
If we signed a player who was an unused substitute for his side in the EL or CL playoff rounds to date, we could register him for the first leg of the CL playoffs.