Where’s Waldo? Or, more to the point, Villarreal’s own missing man, Arnaut Danjuma. He last played in the match against Atalanta that saw us progress in the Champions League (December 9) and that was after missing time due to an ankle injury.
Javi Mata addressed the Danjuma question today on Radio Vila-real and basically said “he’ll come back when he comes back” and that’s all anyone outside the club knows. He’s had an ankle injury for over a month. Villarreal have always been secretive about injuries, and the secrecy has become more pronounced under Unai Emery, and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Javi pointed out that Danjuma is a nice guy, a good professional, but he views Villarreal as a springboard to something greater; as Javi put it, he’s not going to retire here, he’s not going to buy a house on the road to Saint Pascal’s hermitage (the hermitage of San Pascal, you’ll recall, is where the club always presents a floral offering and is blessed by the priest before the season starts), but so what?
Now, someone who views Villarreal as a stepping stone to greater things certainly is going to want to play. In fact, someone (I don’t remember who) tweeted a photograph of Danjuma undergoing treatment to hopefully be able to play before Atalanta. He clearly was undergoing cupping therapy—a lot of it—which I am sure was not done by Villarreal’s medical staff, but by an acupuncturist or other alternative medicine specialist. You don’t do that unless you’re willing to do a lot to get back onto the pitch.
The other point I’d make is that this ankle injury, or an ankle injury, doesn’t appear to be new to him. He missed over a month in 2019 with this injury; he missed from December 2019 to June 2020 with an ankle injury. So I doubt he’s going to want to rush his return even when he does feel fit.
Javi Mata again: “What? There are farmers who hurt their foot, use their sickle to bind it up, throw some betadine on it and go back to work the next day? Danjuma isn’t doing that? Well, no....we hope to get him healthy, let him play ASAP, we hope he gets 8,9, 15 more goals...and if Newcastle comes with €50m, then goodbye. But stop bothering me (stop being tiresome), because he’s not here. He’s injured.”