Pablo Fornals returned from the U-21 World Cup to bid goodbye to Villarreal today before heading off on his West Ham adventure. He listed some highlights of the past two years at Villarreal—scoring the goal that brought us victory at the Bernabeu was a big one, of course.
Fornals said he’s excited to play under Pellegrini and to play in the EPL. It’s physical and fast-paced, as he noted, but as Juan Mata pointed out years ago, if you can beat that first physical challenge from the defender, you often find you have plenty of room to maneuver. Mata and Cazorla succeeded very well in England; I am thinking Fornals, with his workrate and skill set, will do well. (West Ham have a nice article about him here, too.)
And speaking of Pellegrini, check out this article from These Football Times on Pellegrini’s time at Villarreal.
We have been rather slower to arrange preseason friendlies this time, doubtless because we are not needing to get ready for European matches. Players report back for medical tests this weekend, but nothing happens training-wise until the 8th.
Villarreal will do some concentrated work, including a couple of friendlies, in Spain: they play West Bromwich Albion on July 13 at Oliva Nova, a golf resort south of Valencia, and take on Levante July 20 at Parador El Soler, where we’ve been before—it’s a hotel/golf complex with a grass soccer field and training facilities.
And no news on the signing front, though we are assured that Albiol and Moreno are done but not officially announced for some reason or other. No news lately of Moi Gomez, Ontiveros, etc etc. We shall see.
Oh, one last thing—La Liga have appointed its first female referee’s assistant. Congratulations to Guadalupe Porras! She spent two years in the Segunda and before that eight years in the Segunda B.