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The realistic objective and the ceiling to Villarreal’s 2021/22 season

What now for Villarreal after the search for silverware came to an end last season?

Chelsea FC v Villarreal CF - UEFA Super Cup 2021
Unai Emery will want to take the next step with Villarreal this season
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

A new season awaits Villarreal and there is already a different feel in the air.

After so many years of hoping to land a major title, the Yellow Submarine finally ended their search last season with that unforgettable Europa League win.

Suddenly it’s pressure off, a burden lifted off the shoulders of the club, though that’s not to say the search for gold ends there.

Unai Emery has said himself already this summer, this is a club that cannot stay still, and it’s still one drunk on dreams, as it has been for the last 20 years or so.

So, what is the aim for Villarreal ahead of this season?

Here we run through the ceiling, the realistic objective and what should be the worst case scenario.

The worst case

It wasn’t so long ago that Villarreal found themselves battling relegation in what was a catastrophe of a 2018/19 season, so while the worst case scenario is always something out of the ordinary, this particular worst case is very much what the floor should be for the Yellows this coming season.

That floor is a similar league campaign to last season.

The last La Liga campaign was a disappointing one, but one that was rightly accepted given the emphasis on the Europa League. The plan worked.

In the coming season, a Champions League title is not a realistic aim, and so some more emphasis on the league should be granted.

This is a squad that should be finishing in the top six, despite how competitive it will be this season, given the presence of Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Celta Vigo.

With that in mind, failure this season is a seventh place finish or lower, failure to qualify for the Round of 16 in the Champions League and no real challenge to win the Copa del Rey.

The expectation

Based on the current squad, Villarreal might be a little short of challenging for top four - for reasons we will come on to later.

But as mentioned above, this is a top six squad and one that is more than capable of progressing through the Champions League group stage.

Villarreal have seed one advantage in the Champions League, meaning they are only likely to draw one stronger team in the group stage.

A realistic aim should be a top six finish, preferably fifth place, along with a Champions League Round of 16 finish and a challenge in the Copa del Rey, and by challenge we are talking semi-final and beyond.

This is a side that wants to - and indeed should be - challenging on all fronts even if there’s no winners’ medal at the end of it.

That will be Emery’s aim and the expectation of the board this season.

The ceiling

The ceiling is only likely to be achievable with a couple of additions.

Villarreal don’t need an awful lot more. This is a strong squad, and Boulaye Dia already looks like being a wise addition for just €12million.

But to challenge for a top four spot, and to progress through at least one stage of the Champions League, a new winger is required.

The front line takes care of itself between Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer, Dia and young Fer Nino.

But there has to be more competition out wide for Samu Chukwueze, even if Moi Gomez ups his game and Javi Ontiveros comes into the fold.

The Yellows need a top-class winger with pace to burn to be able to take the next step.

And while there are plenty of options in midfield with the return of Vicente Iborra, a defensive midfielder along the lines of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa wouldn’t go amiss.

If Villarreal can add those pieces, the next level, which is a fourth-place finish, a Champions League quarter-final and a strong challenge for the Copa del Rey may be within reach.

That would represent a brilliant coming season for Emery and his men.