Continuing our look at Villarreal’s roster going into the summer, now we come to attacking midfielders. We have a bunch.
On the left:
Denis Cheryshev. Has struggled this season with fitness but matches over the last few weeks have shown his worth when he’s healthy. He’s under contract until 2021, and is hoping to be an important part of Russia’s World Cup squad this summer.
Roberto Soriano. As an attacking midfielder on the left wing, he’s quite good. Playing him in the middle, where he made his starts until recently, he’s been poor. So more than most, his future with the team really depends on whether he has a specific place to play. Soriano is under contract to 2021 also.
Alfonso Pedraza. Just mentioning his name here (again) so everyone realizes he is a candidate for this position as well. He’s very similar to Cheryshev as far as how he plays in left attacking midfield, too.
Summer activity: I thought Soriano was really impressive last year and would hate to lose him, but if the club keeps Pedraza—and they should—Soriano’s lack of versatility, and the fact he can still be moved on for good money, probably makes him the odd man out.
Cheryshev’s injury issues are always a concern, though, and if he indeed plays in the World Cup, Villarreal might want to wait to make sure he returns in one piece before dealing Soriano. Relying on Pedraza without backup wouldn’t be my choice, though Fornals and Nicola Sansone can fill in at left wing if needed. Clearly, however, no additions needed, and probably one departure.
However, there is one intriguing option as an upgrade, Denis Suarez. I don’t see it myself mostly because I think Barca would overcharge for him and his chances of seeing more playing time there will increase with Iniesta’s departure; his minutes this season have been down but that’s partly due to an injury that kept him out for two months. Still, Villarreal brought Cheryshev back, could they do the same with another Denis?
On the right:
Samu Castillejo: Another player whose performances over the last few weeks have shown what he can really bring to the table. Samu is reminiscent of Cani—loves to cut in from the right wing, loves to take on defenders, though sometimes—again like Cani—he can get muscled off the ball and ends up complaining petulantly. Samu is better defensively though, and has the pace to get to the byline. But like Cani, he’s somewhat maddening in that he has the ability to take over a game, but can also drift out of one. Under contract to 2020.
Dani Raba: I’m putting him here because that’s mostly where he’s played this season, though of late he’s been playing in the middle of our 4-2-3-1 and doing very well. Raba didn’t even get a chance to play with the first team until November, is only 22, and still has only started 12 matches for Villarreal. He’s under contract to 2020, and is not going anywhere.
Summer activity: There is always a chance someone will come in for Samu; he’s only 23 and has a lot of upside. If that were to happen, we’d have to get back into the market because apart from Raba, we don’t really have anyone to play on the right.
And then there’s.....Santi Cazorla. Recently returned to training with Arsenal after not playing for nearly two years, his contract is up. Villarreal, per Javi Mata, are at least ‘interested’ in him. In fact, it’s been reported Sr. Roig made a personal call to Santi to ask him to sign with us. He’s still only 33, and if he could conjure up even a fraction of his midfield magic, he’d be well worth signing!!