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Villarreal transfer linked with Ligue One defender plus Funes Mori joins group training

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The Villarreal search for a center back continues.

FBL-FRA-LCUP-PSG-SAINT-ETIENNE Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

In addition to being linked with Tottenham’s Juan Foyth yesterday, we were also, according to Super Deporte, taking a look at Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne. Center back remains the primary gap in the squad, and we have seen in multiple preseason matches already that not having both Pau Torres and Raul Albiol available and on the pitch causes immediate problems.

Some of these issues will be addressed with the return of Ramiro Funes Mori to group training. I’m not particularly high on Ramiro, but as a fourth CB option I think he would be just fine. That still leaves the question of who the third option would be, particularly in the right CB slot to spell Raul Albiol.

Now to Wesley Fofana. The French defender is just 19 years old, so if he shows up this season be prepared to be patient with him. He played about 1200 minutes in Ligue One last year and acquitted himself rather well. What leapt off the page to me in terms of his numbers is his aerial duels. He won more than five per match and more than 75% of the ones he contested, both extremely high numbers. This I think would be ideal for pairing with Pau, who for all his gifts isn’t the best in the air.

Of his 1200 minutes last season in the league, about a thousand of them were on the right side of the CB pairing, which comes as no surprise. My biggest question is how will a young player like this transition from France to a higher quality of play in La Liga, and for that I turned to Smarterscout, where I can grade his numbers through their algorithm at a standard specifically adjusted for La Liga play:

smarterscout.com

This signing wouldn’t be quite as glamorous as getting a young player from Tottenham Hotspur, but Fofana is two years younger, may already be the better player, and very well could be cheaper (especially in terms of wages). There’s not nearly as much smoke on this rumor yet but I personally will be keeping an eye on it.