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Villarreal squad update

Maria José Segovia

My colleague Sidarth recently began a position by position assessment of the squad, starting with goalkeepers. This is intended to be a more cursory look at our current squad (which is obviously too large).

Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Andrés (presumably). We need a third keeper—Barbosa?

Back Four: Adrian Marin, Jaume Costa, Antonio Rukavina, Mario Gaspar, Victor Ruiz, Alvaro Gonzalez, Bonera, Semedo. Pablo Iñiguez (loaned to Rayo last season). José Angel is being returned to Porto.

Keeping in mind Mario could be an emergency CB, I still would like to see us add another, but it doesn’t seem likely. I doubt Iñiguez stays.

Wings: Roberto Soriano, Denis Cheryshev, Jona dos Santos, Samu Castillejo. (Nicola Sansone can play here as well).

We have all sorts of players who were loaned out that play at this position. Akram Afif didn’t play a lot at relegated Sporting Gijon, while Cristian Espinosa seems to have settled at Real Valladolid; I would expect one of them to be loaned to a promoted side (maybe Girona?), the other probably in the Segunda. As for Matias Nahuel, he’s under contract at Betis for another year.

And then there are the tough choices. Alfonso Pedraza surely will be given a good chance to make the team. Leeds hoped to buy him in spite of their failure to achieve promotion, but Villarreal said no (it doesn’t sound as though Pedraza wanted to, either). If he doesn’t play for us, I would expect we’d loan him to another Primera side. His contract runs for two more years.

Finally, we have Leo Suárez, who had some injuries last season but played 18 matches (four goals) with Villarreal B, and made his La Liga debut. He’s two years into a five-year contract; do we promote him to the first team, where he’ll have limited playing time, loan him somewhere?

Doble Pivote: Bruno Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Rodrigo Hernandez.

Often we’ve had a fourth ‘pivot’ player here. But I can’t see us keeping Alfred N’Diaye just for that, so he’ll be sold or loaned I am sure. Jonathan dos Santos can play here if need be, so too (I think) Semedo. And Escribá has been more willing to move away from the 4-4-2 than his predecessors.

This probably is the position where we’re thinnest, though.

Strikers: Soldado, Sansone, Bakambu, Ünal. Santos Borré won’t return, and I would not expect Adrián to, though some seem to have more belief in that possibility than I would have expected. (He can play on the wing, I should note).

All that adds up to 22 players in the squad, 23 if Pedraza or Suárez is included. 23 is the same size as the squad we had last season.