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Villarreal USA Roundtable: Best formation and Dream XI for next season

What will Unai Emery do with the roster he is inheriting at Villarreal?

Getafe v Villarreal - La Liga Santander
Villarreal best starting X1
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

We have asked our pundits for their dream formations for next year. There will be plenty of surprises so let us know what you think in the comments.


I have always felt 4 4 2 is a must formation for us. I prefer the defensive approach in diamond. The formation is very much (reluctantly) in the style of Atletico Madrid. No reliance on wingers, I prefer a narrow diamond where the midfielders play through central channels to support the strikers. The full back can also attack from defence although this should be used to widen the opposition for the channels rather than a attacking threat

Crucial to my formation is the defencive mid. It allows the CAM to attack and Zambo and Moi to charge forward. This was crucial to the Bruno Trigueros partnership. I feel this can be imitated using Cáceres. Iborra for me slows down the play too much. He goes backwards, slows down the play and struggles defensively on his own. I prefer Samu and Ontiveros to come on as subs when opposition is tired.


Dani Parejo- CAM or CDM could play both roles really well. Definitely worth signing if he wants to come.

Aleix García for the CDM role- Not blossomed yet but returning to Villarreal and given enough game time he will. He has enough natural ability to really shine through. Excellent passing skills as well.

Victor Ruiz- Very solid CB- It would be worth signing him now on the cheap as back up. Good few years left in Albiol. Once he retires worth investing in young prospect like Pau. For now Albiol is world class and I don’t want replaced.


I want to see us run a 4231 similar to what we’ve seen from Emery in his Sevilla days. Fitting our roster into it will take some work, though. A real issue here is that a 4231 requires good two-way play from the wide midfielders barring a tremendous output from the fullback defensively. Because of this, I think the best move for the club will be to sell Samu Chukwueze and replace him with someone like Jose Callejon, who isn’t necessarily a great defender but who is far less likely to be caught out of position too far forward. I would also like to see Caceres and Jaume Costa re-introduced into the side, as I never really understood why they were loaned out to begin with.

In my pie in the sky dream scenario, we bring in David Silva on a free transfer, and he operates in the 10 role here, but this is what I see the starting XI, and more or less the depth chart, shaping up to be:


I see the midfield 3 as fairly interchangeable, with it being possible to start Zambo in the slot Iborra is listed in and putting Trigueros at the ten. Suggestions for a very low cost way to fill the signings listed are:

RW Jose Callejon

CM David Silva

CDM Mikel San Jose

CB Victor Ruiz

All these players would be free transfers. If we sell Samu we would have the option of getting one or two of these free options then spending the revenue from the sale to bolster the biggest needs (probably CB and DM). I also think such additions would give us the roster flexibility to shift our formation to meet the threat offered by each opponent, which is something that Emery does well and something Calleja failed to do even in his end of season hot streak (running out the same 442 as usual against Barcelona was a prime example).


I’ll line my XI up in Emery’s preferred 4-3-3 but as you’ll see there is a lot of room for flexibility here. Emery is definitely NOT going to go with a set lineup the way. He’s going to value players who are very flexible in what they can do and where they can play. Which tells me Samu Chukwueze will probably be the odd man out here.

Now, I have left out two players—Vicente Iborra, whom we already have, and a new attacking player. I think this should be Callejón, and both he and Iborra will get starts but you’ll see below why I didn’t put them in any one place.

As for the new central midfielder, I’m liking Dani Parejo; Campaña, I’m not expecting Oscar.

We definitely need another CB and I’ve added Araujo from Celta for depth there. I’m not particularly enamored of Mario these days, but he and Peña are different enough players that we will get mileage from both. Same on the left side where Moreno and Jaume Costa are available. (I don’t know where this leaves Miguelón or Quintillá).

In practice I expect us to look more like a 4-2-1-3 or even a 4-2-3-1 when we are attacking, because Trigueros will tend to move more forward and central to be the ball distributor. Depending what three players are up top, you could see one of them drift back as well so it seems very narrow Villarreal-under-Pellegrini 4-2-2-2, or if you really have a CDM who is happy to stay back, you could see us in a 4-1-4-1. Iborra can take the place of Moi and the formation becomes Robin’s 4-4-2, or he can take Trig’s place and then maybe Parejo, or Campaña, or Oscar—whoever you got—moves up to be the distributor. I truly think the various transfer ideas so far illustrate how creative Emery is willing to be with whoever he finally ends up with.


€0-5m for a third CB. I’d like Araujo from Celta but Victor Ruiz on a free would be OK.

CDM: would prefer Parejo (most expensive, €10-12m?). Or Mikel San José on a free—he might enjoy playing for a Basque coach! Otherwise we buy Campaña for €15m and let him play in the middle.

€25m for Zambo (already offered)

I pick up the attacking midfielder/winger type for free by signing Callejón.

All of that comes to €45m at most; if we sell Unal for €10m, Pedraza for €5m, Ekambi and Alvaro for €15m (already done) we’re only €15m short. Samu at €40m+ gives us good profits.


I will go with a 4-3-3 that I think has the tools to convert to a 4-2-3-1 in defense if needed. The goalkeeper and defenders are clear in my opinion. Asenjo is the best we have, and the centerback pair of Pau and Albiol is top notch. For the fullbacks, I think Mario Gaspar can bring some good work there, while in the left back position I think why not returning Pedraza. The midfield, I decided to go with Iborra, Zambo and Trigueros. Iborra has some drawbacks, but I see Emery as returning his best version, and Zambo will stay as we will pay the buyout. Fron three we have two new signings and Don Gerard Moreno. Callejón and Óscar Rodríguez would be sign, playing respectively as right winger and left winger.

I think the 4-3-3 can give us depth for travelling the ball forward, moving into a 3-4-3 if Emery seems fit with Iborra dropping down and Mario and Pedraza moving forward. Both wingers could cut inside looking for advantage from inside while Gerard could drop a bit down as a false 9. The idea is to create different situtations of superiority with the rival defense as to allow the team to get easy goals with only a backpass. Also, the movements of the top three can be very important to help create space for people as Trigueros or Zambo. In case you wanted to go for a 4-2-3-1 in defense, Zambo would drop down at the same line as Iborra, with Callejón and Óscar dropping down to form a line of three with Trigueros


Toko Ekambi and Álvaro González are sold for 15 millions, you also have the 1 million of Akram Afif transfer. You could sell Unal for around 10 and I think moving Samu could give you a good chunk of money

Callejón is a free, Zambo and Óscar would be a total of 45 millions. Victor Ruiz is free, and you have Caseres returning from his bad experience in Mexico. Plus a lot of your loanees are returning, giving you options if you keep some of them in your squad as Miguelón and return the loan for somone as Dani Raba


This survey is for our bragging rights. You might have noticed but we all have big egos. By voting in this you are essentially preventing all out war. It will save losing fingers responding to angry social media messages from each other. Thank you on behalf of our fingers.


Whos XI would fair best in La Liga next season?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    (6 votes)
  • 13%
    (3 votes)
  • 34%
    (8 votes)
  • 26%
    (6 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now