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We don’t talk about Rulli - Villarreal must confront glaring issue

The Yellow Submarine has been a little too careful not to upset their goalkeeper

Villarreal v Liverpool Semi Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
The Rulli experiment must be over
Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Villarreal must now confront a problem they have been reluctant to solve over the last year.

Geronimo Rulli became a Yellows hero when he saved a penalty to hand the club its first ever major trophy last season.

His penalty save against David De Gea - after he had scored one himself, by the way - will forever be enshrined in Villarreal history,

So much so that he was given a grace season this season.

That’s not all there was to it. Rulli was handed the number one position over Sergio Asenjo because of his ability to play the ball out from the back.

Villarreal v Liverpool Semi Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Rulli had another disaster against Liverpool
Photo by DAX Images/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rulli is not as good a shot-stopper as Asenjo, whose number one days are also probably over, but he is generally better passing the ball.

Unai Emery wants a goalkeeper who can accurately play short passes and lofted medium-length passes to his full-backs further up the pitch.

Rulli offers that and has been asked to pass the ball regularly, the third most in La Liga, by the way, but six goalkeepers in La Liga have a better completion percentage.

When it comes to saving the ball, Rulli hasn’t been a disaster in La Liga, holding the sixth best shot-stopping percentage in La Liga.

But he has become a liability for Villarreal.

The Argentine doesn’t catch the ball, almost always opting to punch clear, or even to palm long range shots - which should be caught - back into play.

He has cost the Yellows with his decision-making, something we have seen in key moments this season, including against Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

And, of course, the most recent examples are from the defeat to Liverpool in which he was so clearly responsible for the defeat.

He should have saved Fabinho’s shot for Liverpool’s first goal in the second leg, he should probably have saved Luis Diaz’s header, and who knows what he was doing for Sane Mane’s goal.

Now, Rulli has made some big saves this season, but the fact is that Villarreal cannot trust their goalkeeper.

That hasn’t been talked about enough because of the respect from last season’s Europa League heroics.

But make no mistake, Villarreal need a goalkeeper they can trust and they need one this summer.

Rulli is not good enough to start at this level, if the Yellow Submarine do hold top four ambitions, and the goalkeeping position must be a priority to strengthen this summer.