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Team for Astana named; still no Rodri renewal

AS Roma v FC Villarreal - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Villarreal have announced the squad for the trip to Astana. It is:

  • Keepers: Barbosa, Cantero and Fuoli.
  • Defenders: Mario, Rukavina, Marín, Costa, Víctor Ruiz, Bonera i Álvaro.
  • Midfielders: Rodrigo, Trigueros, Soriano, Fornals, Ramiro and Raba
  • Strikers: Sansone, Bacca and Bakambu.

Alvaro returns after missing the Athletic Club match through injury, while Denis Cheryshev is a surprising addition to the injury list, with a slight hamstring injury. At least, we hope it’s slight. Not a strong bench in midfield after we get past the first four, with Samu still out as well.

We fly from Valencia to Astana (a seven-hour flight), then play a match in freezing temperatures on an artificial pitch, then head home to face Sevilla on Sunday.

Speaking of Cheryshev, Spanish justice moving as slowly as it does, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that Real Madrid are still arguing the “Cheryshev case”, demanding damages (I guess) for getting thrown out of the Copa del Rey in December 2015. The Appeals Court rejected that this week, they can still appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, we still have heard nothing about Rodrigo’s renewal, and it’s not just Villarreal USA faithful who are starting to worry. EPM (local paper) carried a story by journalist José Luis Lizarraga who commented on the lack of a signed renewal earlier this week. As matters now stand, his buyout is only €12m, a pittance in today’s market. Given that Lizarraga is a journalist who is very well connected at the club, the fact that he writes that “Rodri should be grateful (for his development at Villarreal to date) and sign a new deal is worrying—sounds as though the club is concerned he may walk. I hope I’m wrong about that.