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Villarreal USA Roundtable: Villarreal players that should never have been sold

Which players would have gone on to be Villarreal Legends?

Villarreal v Valencia - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With transfer speculation running a mischief and the threat of Pau Torres or Samu being sold. We thought we’d look at the players we’d wish we had never sold. There will be definitely be a few surprises with this one. Make sure your leave you comments below


I am known amongst bloggers as a bit of an odd ball when it comes to roundtables. This post will not be any different.

Striker Luciano Vietto

The Argentine had some real natural talent and I am sure if he hadn’t left he would have gone on to be one of our top scorers of all times. 20 goals in his first season with us is amazing. It normally takes our standard strikers at least 2 season to achieve this. He was incredibly quick and fast and scored some beautiful goals. I will never forget the way he skimmed Diego Godin, one of the best Cbs in the world like he was nothing.

Midfielder Rodri

One of the best defencive midfielders I have ever seen. He had huge talent very early on. Normally with this role are CDM are barely noticed. You immediately notice Rodri’s impact on the pitch, he was exceptional. Although never properly played alongside Bruno. For me him and Bruno were equal in abilities. Sad to say I always thought we would lose him.

Defender Gonzalo Rodriguez

One of my favourite defenders of all time for Villarreal. In my eyes completely outshined any other CB we had. When he left out defence went drastically downhill. It is only since Raul Albiol or Paul that I think he has truly been replaced. I know that will be controversial with Bailey and Gabriel but for me he was brilliant.


Just seeing retrospectively my picks seems to be a list of successful Villarreal players signed by Atleti after their best season with the groguets

Striker Vietto

Don’t know if should go the route of shouldn’t have been sold of he should have never went out of the club. Looking at his career post-Villarreal it’s just not very brilliant compared to what you saw of him as a groguet player. While he didn’t have a great start, he picked up some steam and ended with a respectable goalscoring record. He’s still at a good age to rekindle that magic

Midfielder Rodri

He had a huge upside showing great potential at a young age. So impressive he was that Atleti came down knocking on the door for him to return. A real pity as since then, Villarreal has not managed to have such a great DM as him

Defender Diego Godín

The Uruguayan is for me the best defender Villarreal have had recently. Watching him you knew he would end up making it bigger than Villarreal would allow him to. His partnership with Gonzalo Rodríguez made both of them better.


So, there’s multiple ways of looking at this, but realistically a lot of the players that you might say ‘should never have sold’ are really players the club didn’t have a choice but to sell. A release clause got hit or the player really wanted to move to a bigger club, so there’s not much that could be done.

Striker Karl Toko Ekambi

Realistically, breaking our club transfer fee for Paco Alcacer in January wasn’t necessary. If Calleja had been able to keep things mended with Toko Ekambi, he’s a good enough striker that we could have had a similar quality roster to what we have now and had a lot more money in the bank than we do. Paco is better than Toko, but to me not enough to justify the extra sunk cost as we go into a summer where we desperately need a lot of cash to fill holes in the midfield and at CB. I know Vietto has been mentioned here but to me that situation was won where we capitalized on a player who was playing unsustainably well and then he moved on and showed what his actual level was.

Midfielder Riquelme

I get it, Riquelme had manager issues at several stops in his career, but let’s be honest- he was the most transcendent talent the club has ever had. He could have gone down in history with a far greater legacy, and we could have a very different modern history as a club, if we had swallowed our pride and made sure things worked out with Riquelme. What other talents would we have attracted to the club? Would we have risen in stature to the point that we never would have been relegated? We’ll never know, but I would have liked to have found out.

Defender Diego Godin

I know money in football was different in 2010... but my word he left for so little money and end up being such a great player.


I think we really are having a bit of groupthink here. I’ll try to break it a bit :)

Defender Diego Godin

I mean, we’ll never know what really happened before the Real Zaragoza match that ended the 2009-2010 season, but getting rid of Godin really didn’t make good footballing sense. At the time the way we structured his sale didn’t seem too bad —a decent percentage of a future sale—but Godin became one of the finest defenders in the world and a linchpin of Cholo’s Atleti. We would have been better off docking some pay for whatever the indiscretion was—sending him out of the club was a mistake.

Midfielder Santi Cazorla

Yeah, I almost picked Riquelme here, I almost picked Rodri, but he just got too good too soon and Riquelme....that was never going to end well. Santi was different. He didn’t want to leave; he was sold for money reasons, that was all.

To make matters worse, the money we got from his sale was reinvested badly. Tell me we were a better team with Jonathan de Guzmán (played out of position/hardly used), Javier Camuñas (poor at best) and Cristian Zapata (sold after one season). Sure, no one could have predicted Rossi’s injury, but selling Santi ripped the heart out of the team before that season even started.

Striker Jeremy Perbet

Again, I have a hard problem picking someone who you got good money for when they wanted to leave (which is why no Vietto, no Bakambu). I go with Perbet, one of my favorite Villarreal players. I get he didn’t really fit into Marcelino’s tactical system, but the guy could score goals (11 in 18 Segunda matches, 10 in 26 Primera games). We sold him for not very much and we would have been better off keeping him. Instead we got players like Adrian Lopez or Leo Baptistao on loan to fill in the striker gaps. With Perbet we already had what we needed.

(this was almost a tie with Nicola Sansone, just anticipating some comments)

So how did we do?

Who should we have never have sold? What do you think of the players we mentioned?