Villarreal’s front office has a lot of decisions to make this summer. Sr. Roig has already said the first two are (1) renew Javi Calleja as coach and (2) sign Santi Cazorla to a new contract.
The fanbase is divided about (1), especially since Quique Setien and Pablo Machín are available. (Many seem to be swooning over Setien; I would prefer Machín myself). But if the Luis Garcia Plaza interlude did nothing else, it showed us there were coaches who could get less out of this team than Calleja did, and the fundamental problems with this team were less coaching that personnel decisions. I have to expect Sr. Roig agreed to renew Calleja if he returned and kept us up; I also doubt Calleja is looking to go anywhere else.
The fanbase is unanimous about (2). Santi signed a contract for this season that paid him a low base salary plus a fee per appearance, which made sense since we didn’t know how many appearances he might make. There was a report in the Spanish press today that teams in China and Qatar would love to have him, maybe even MLS, but my guess is that’s his agent trying to sweeten the pot a bit for his client, especially after Santi already said he wanted to stay with Villarreal. I’d expect Santi to get a two- or three-year deal from Villarreal—he has certainly proved himself!!
Then, there is the elephant in the room that has to be dealt with—Bruno Soriano’s return, or lack thereof. Bruno last played in a competitive match May 21, 2017—two years ago. He has never recovered from surgery in the summer of 2017, and the problem is that while he has visited the best sports doctors in Spain and there has been no definitive “you can’t play football again” statement from them, whenever he has returned to practice, he has been unable to continue.
Bruno’s contract expires next summer, but EPM reports Villarreal have decided they cannot wait for him to return any longer. They want to agree on a contract recission and move forward with signing a player to permanently replace him. Typically these sorts of articles appear in the local paper only after having been vetted by the club (and sometimes serve as trial balloons—what does the fanbase think about this?, or a negotiation tactic—we’re putting our cards on the table here). Impossible to know in this case, and the last paragraph suggests that perhaps the compromise will be slotting him into some role with the club—just not a playing one.
The article suggests signing Santy Caseres was something of a stopgap in the hope Bruno could return, but he is not seen as the permanent solution. So, looking for a defensive midfielder will be a priority—one of our priorities— this offseason.
And, has anyone noticed how Victor Ruiz disappeared from view? He played 90 minutes in eight consecutive matches, beginning with our defeat of Sevilla. He missed the Girona match through suspension but was only on our bench for our next five matches, and wasn’t named in the squad to face Eibar at all.
His contract situation is also confusing. His contract supposedly expires this summer, though there were reports it had been extended a year (perhaps the club had an option to do so?) Regardless, there was no acknowledgment that he was departing, which one would have expected if his contract were simply expiring after five years with the club and we weren’t renewing it. But is he in our plans for next season? It doesn’t seem so.