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The connection between Villarreal and Boca Juniors

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A stroll through Villarreal history.

Boca Juniors v Argentinos Juniors - Superliga 2019/20 Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

I was watching a match between Real Madrid and Villarreal from 2003-2004 on Youtube (didn’t end well for us, but hey it was on Youtube in its entirety and I could cast it to my TV) when I realized the massive connections between Villarreal and Boca Juniors that I was seeing on the screen. It was January 24th, 2004, we had drawn Real Madrid at home that year, and we went out on the pitch in the Santiago Bernabeu with three former Boca players on the pitch: Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Juan Román Riquelme, and Sebastián Battaglia. Battaglia, interestingly enough, only ever played for Boca and Villarreal in his entire career.

I decided to do a little bit of research, because frankly, I’ve got a stay at home order in my area and what else am I going to do today? Since Diego Cagna arrived for 6m in 99-00, we’ve had four other players arrive directly from the Argentine club. Three of them, Martin Palermo, Arruabarrena, and Gustavo Schelotto all arrived in the same season, 00-01, with the aforementioned Battaglia arriving in 03-04.

Going the other direction, Walter Gaitan left us to go to Boca in July of 2000, Battaglia went back to Boca in 05-06, and Riquelme as we all know went to Boca in 06-07 on loan before completing the transfer the next year. In 10-11, we sent two players to Boca in Leandro Somoza and Damian Escudero, and in 17-18 we loaned Cristian Espinoza across the pond to Argentina (he is now in MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes).

All the transfers so far have been between our first team and Boca Juniors. I went a step further and searched transfers between Boca and our B team (on Transfermarkt they are separate pages). Leo Suarez joined the B team from Boca in 14-15, Esteban Orfano came from Boca’s B team to our B team in 11-12, and Leandro Diaz came to the B side from Boca in 05-06.

This is where things got difficult. Finding deals directly between the two clubs is a very easy search, but what about players who played for both clubs but not consecutively? I searched all Argentine players in Villarreal history to find out if I could uncover any other connections this way. Gonzalo Castellani spent several years as a Boca owned player after leaving Villarreal for Godoy Cruz (he was on loan the entire time). Luciano Figueroa left Villarreal for River Plate (another club that today I’ve learned we have a lot of connections to) and then ended up on loan at Boca via Genoa, and finally Fabricio Coloccini joined Milan from Boca before coming to us on loan.

If non-Argentine players played for both clubs, they went beyond the purview of my search (I do have to be at least moderately productive today, after all) but it is really fascinating to see the solid business relationship between these two clubs (and really, between Villarreal and Argentine football as a whole) over the years. Boca and their academy had a particular impact in helping Villarreal gain its initial footing in La Liga.

Depending on how you evaluate such a thing, Villarreal and Boca, today, are similar sized clubs. Villarreal plays in the better league and is more financially secure, while Boca has more history and plays in a stadium twice as large- the legendary Bombonera. The two sides have met only once, in Buenos Aires in 2017, and the home side took the friendly 1-0. If you want to watch some football today, I’ve linked a Youtube video of the entire match below:

Did I miss any connections between the two clubs? What other non-Spanish clubs have we done a lot of business with over the years? Share your thougths below.