- Sergio Asenjo (upon return from injury)
- Andrés Fernández (end of loan from Porto; purchase option can be triggered for 2MM per reports)
- Mariano Barbosa (maybe some Copa del Rey opportunities)
Asenjo started the 2016-17 campaign with a bang and was the Zamora of La Liga at the halfway mark. But yet again, a torn cruciate ligament in his knee proved the end of his season and the start of another long injury layoff. If someone knows how to come back better than ever, it's Asenjo, but I fear the third time may be a challenge to regain top form and confidence in his body. Fingers crossed for his return in September.
Andrés really proved his worth in our #1's absence. He started dubiously in flapping at Morata's game-winner after coming on as an injury substitute against Real Madrid at El Madrigal. But he more than made up for the dropped point with a series of sparkling displays to end the campaign. Andrés was arguably our best player in the second half of the season, and that's a real credit to a player who hasn't had consistent top-flight action for a few years. If the reported price tag is accurate, seems a small price for a player happy to be back in Spain with a club that has pursued him for years. Ojalá.
Barbosa is the prototypical Villarreal backup keeper over the years -- experienced but if he's playing a lot, it's not a good thing. Expect more of the same in the second year of this stint with the club.
One rumor that could shake things up: Alphonse Areola is out of favor at PSG and wants regular minutes and European football. He seemed to really enjoy his time in Vila-real, but you'd expect PSG to cash in on one of the bright goalkeeping prospects in world football. If the Yellow Submarine makes a move for Areola, you'd have to view it as an investment, as Asenjo appears to have full confidence as the long-term #1. As we don't have a farm system of loanees, and the outlay would be significant at a position where the club has developed talent (including Juan Carlos, Mariño, and Ortolá in recent years), don't count on the Frenchman's return to El Madrigal.