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Villarreal roster will change , coach remains the same

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That’s the news after the match yesterday....

Villarreal v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Santi Cazorla looks likely to join Villarreal for preseason training. He has not played since October 2016, when he suffered an ankle/Achilles injury against Ludgorets. Since then he’s had something like a dozen surgeries—has had all sorts of problems with gangrene in that foot— and at one time looked unlikely to ever play again.

His Arsenal contract is expiring and although there have been lots of rumors he was going to become an assistant to Mikel Arteta (who would replace Arsene Wenger) they’ve only been rumors.

After yesterday’s match Marcos Senna appeared to confirm reports that Santi is likely to join us for preseason, and if all goes well, would become part of the 2018-19 squad. He’s now 34, so isn’t likely to be an everyday starter, but he certainly could provide some magic and experience if he’s anything like he was—and since he would be available for nothing, it’s only his wages that the club would have to consider in deciding whether to sign him permanently.

Rodrigo Hernandez definitely confirmed what we all knew, or virtually knew, for some time, that his Villarreal time is at an end. Atleti are widely believed to be signing him for something like €20m plus €5m in variables. He went out in style, assisting on two fine goals. This was supposed to be the year he got some playing time as Bruno’s future replacement—instead, he started all but ONE league match, played nearly 4000 minutes in all competitions, made his Spanish national team debut, and looks likely to be the heir-apparent to Sergio Busquets in that team’s midfield. Everyone wishes him well.

Roger Martínez scored the first of those goals with a real whistler across the keeper after creating space for himself, and he apparently is indeed going to be part of the 2018-19 preseason as well, his loan including a mandatory purchase option (though no one has been able to confirm the price). He probably will be loaned out somewhere, I’d guess, unless we are desperately short on strikers.

Javi Mata (Radio Vila-real) says the club is looking at bringing in two defenders, a central midfielder, two or three wingers and two strikers, which would mean that over a third of our roughly 22-man first team would change. Much praise for Sansone and Soriano after yesterday, though to be fair I am not sure we have a position for Sansone to show his best, and Soriano has seemed on his way out for awhile. Still, they were in the shop window yesterday, and sparkled....

And Javi Calleja will have the task of molding whatever group of players we end up with into the 2018-19 squad; as expected, his contract was renewed for another year. I’m not clear if there is an option year beyond that—I think perhaps so.

We see a lot of change almost every summer with the squad, so being able to avoid those Europa League qualifiers in July is really nice. Fifth place is rather fine for our little “village team”, isn’t it?

(and yes, congratulations to Marcelino and Valencia on fourth place and the Champions League. Don’t forget we defeated you twice, though! It’ll be a busy summer there, too).