MARCA devotes some space today to Villarreal’s interest in Javier Ontiveros. The 21-year old Marbella native had a successful season with Malaga, notching five goals and four assists. He played on the right wing for the most part with the boquerones, but can also be a central attacking midfielder or even switch to the left (he is right-footed). The big attraction for Villarreal is that with Malaga failing to gain promotion, his release clause is only €7.5m. Malaga have offered him a new deal but he has not signed it.
MARCA also reports we’re interested in Erick Pulgar (Bologna). He would cost €12m and would fill that central defensive midfielder role vacated by Bruno and Rodri. this would be a great signing if Villarreal could bring it off, in my opinion.
Somewhat less gratifying is our rumored interest in Mauro Arambarri, 23-year old Uruguayan central midfielder now at Getafe. He’s a disrupter more than anything else, like Santy Caseres is quite short, and I find it hard to see why we would be interested (especially since Getafe have said we have to pay his release clause, whatever it is).
It has to be remembered that at this point Villarreal has a good deal of profit from this transfer market (€50m just from Fornals, Sansone and Soriano, and a slice of Rodri’s transfer fee, not counting the likely departure of Pedraza), so it’s no surprise we’re being linked with a number of players. Clearly we’re not going to sign most, or perhaps any of them.
But there are some areas where clearly movement will take place:
Striker--One assumes Toko Ekambi and Gerard will remain; so, if we play something like a 4-4-2, we require only one more striker and perhaps someone who can play as an attacking midfielder/second striker. Yesterday it was reported Carlos Bacca was being shopped around; today Bacca himself, on vacation, said he doesn’t know anything about that, Calleja told him he was in his plans for next season, etc. So then, what of Enes Unal? Will he go on loan to Valladolid again? It feels like he was finding himself the latter part of last season with them and he could be poised for some sort of breakout year—if he gets enough playing time—which won’t be with us if Bacca, Toko E and Gerard all remain.
L’affaire Cheryshev— Left wing, assuming Pedraza departs, is wide open. Denis Cheryshev was on loan to Valencia last season, but they can’t or won’t exercise their €8m purchase option. Los Che have been running up against financial fair play targets and have to get their house in better order by June 30; Villarreal seem to be playing a waiting game, saying they expect Chery to return to Villarreal unless Valencia pay the €8m. We’ve been linked to Moi Gomez, who could play on the left side but is more of an attacking midfielder than a winger.
Following up on a couple of previously linked players, Pablo Maffeo has moved to Girona (bit of a surprise following their relegation), while Levante have paid Huesca €3.5m for Gonzalo Melero.