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Villarreal’s transfers over 20 years: Part 3, 2014-18

Club Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

2014-?? Modern football: the player churn

The names change frequently now: with a truly international transfer market (Chinese clubs, especially, willing to pay big bucks) and enormous TV contracts and income in the EPL inflating transfer fees and salaries, the game for Villarreal has become identifying bargains in the €3-10m range, developing them for a couple of years at most, then selling on, hopefully for profit that can be reinvested.

A key difference in modern football from the past is the power of the player and the player’s agent. Players find it much easier to force a move in search of a bigger salary or a “bigger club” (which usually means the same thing). In the 2002-11 period, most of our larger sales were deals where the team was happy to cash out on the player (Reina, Forlan, etc.) or for whatever reason, the team had determined it did not want to keep the player (Riquelme, Godin); now, Villarreal is for the first time making good money from selling players they’d have preferred to keep, but other clubs are poaching them and are willing to pay full price for their services.

The merry-go-round begins:

2014-15 Gabriel is sold for €15m and the money reinvested in purchasing Asenjo, Luciano Vietto, and Eric Bailly. Gio’s brother Jonathan dos Santos joins us for cheap too, and Denis Cheryshev and Victor Ruiz join us on loan.

2015-16 Vietto is sold for €20m, Gio dos Santos, Aquino, Uche and Gerard for another €17-20m. Purchases: Roberto Soldado (at €16m, our biggest spend on one player since Nilmar); the two Samus, Castillejo and Garcia; Cedric Bakambu, Ruiz.

2016-17 The pace quickens, as Villarreal have qualified for the CL playoffs (where they lose ). In come Alexandre Pato, Roberto Soriano, Nicola Sansone, Alfred N’Diaye, Cristian Espinosa, Denis Cheryshev, and Alvaro Gonzalez. Curiously, it’s possible none of those players will be with us at the end of this transfer window!

Perhaps the most important of these is Pato—while Eric Bailly moving to Manchester United for €38m is our biggest sale ever, buying Pato for €3m and selling him for €18m four months later is a great piece of business.

2017-18 The Bailly record is broken as we cell Cedric Bakambu for €40m; Mateo Musacchio leaves for €18m, Soldado and Jonathan dos Santos as well. We invest part of these proceeds in Ruben Semedo, Enes Unal, and Pablo Fornals, and pick up Carlos Bacca on loan.

Overall, the net results are:

2001-2011 net transfer spend €40m (+/-5m) estimate

2011-13 net transfer income €35m est.

2014-18 net transfer income €25m est.

Overall, then, net transfer income over the period has been roughly €20-25m.

Note variable payments in addition to the base transfer fee are not included.

Part 4 will look at the 2018-19 summer window!