First of all, the Italian journalist who is a good source (Gianluca DiMarzio) has tweeted tonight that it looks like Albiol is staying in Naples. His agent had reached an agreement with Villarreal on a two-year contract, but Napoli want to keep him and were trying hard to convince him to stay and sign a new deal with them.
If Albiol ends up coming to Vila-real, who leaves? Daniele Bonera was offered a one-year deal but has not yet signed it; he’s been taking a coaching course in Italy, starting to earn his coaching badge. Ruiz, or Alvaro?
An article in today’s local paper poses these questions—and has some other interesting things to say as well about our big need in central midfield.
First, the author (Raul Badenes, who is connected pretty well to the club) notes “doubts as to the recovery of Bruno Soriano”. That’s the first time I’ve seen the concern made explicit that he may not be able to come back. Second, Badenes suggests that with preseason starting in two weeks, Calleja wants to focus on a midfield ‘rhombus’—i.e. the formation described variously as a diamond 4-4-2, or a 4-1-2-1-2. Either way, it sounds as though the hope is to go back to two strikers, which probably means:
(a) no place for Cheryshev. In our 4-2-3-1, Chery and Raba played as two of the three behind Bacca, with Fornals, Trigueros and Castillejo competing to fill the remaining two attacking midfield spots.
in the diamond 4-4-2, Castillejo, Trigueros and Fornals filled the three midfield spots apart from Rodri; there was little room for Cheryshev.
(b) Dani Raba is going to be played more as a secondary striker, unless Castillejo leaves and we need an attacking midfielder on the right. If Casti stays and we re-sign Bacca, I don’t see a lot of time on the pitch for Raba. We could loan him to a club like Valladolid or Huesca to get regular playing time.
(c) What about Bacca? Ekambi and Gerard are the obvious two strikers to start. Beyond that, having both Bacca and Unal would make sense if we indeed need two strikers. On the other hand, Bacca was much better as a solo striker than as one of a pair. So maybe the thought is our four will be Ekambi-Gerard-Unal-Raba (see above).
Thoughts? For what it’s worth, while Villarreal’s record was much better in the 4-2-3-1, we performed about the same as a team (according to Whoscored ratings) in the diamond 4-4-2. Either was much better than our ‘traditional’ 4-4-2.