Villareal have made some pretty good transfers under Unai Emery and look set to do wonders again.
Sept. 19, 2020, 2 p.m.
Villareal, on the back of their legend, Santi Cazorla, finished their 19/20 strongly, clinching the fifth place amidst a lot of competition. This season, however, also marked the end of an era for the Yellow Submarine. Their stalwarts, the aforementioned Santi Cazorla and Bruno Soriano along with coach Javier Calleja left the club at the end of the season.
It was supposed to be really difficult for the club to replace these individuals, both in experience and output. Villareal however, ended up exceeding expectations in the transfer market. They not only filled the gap left by the veterans but also added fresh blood into the squad. In this article, we will look to analyze the major new signings that the club made and discuss how they will fit into the side this season.
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) July 23, 2020
The first major transfer news for the Yellow Submarine was that Unai Emery was returning to La Liga as the head coach of Villareal. Emery, who saw a lot of Spanish and European success with Sevilla, has not quite been able to live up to the expectations since leaving Spain. Though he won silverware at PSG, his results were underwhelming compared to the players he had at his disposal, and his stint at Arsenal ended in disappointment as well.
Even after all this, there would be little doubt in anybody’s mind that Emery is still a top coach. Also, a team like Villareal suits him. Emery works at his best when expectations from him are minimal and he has time to implement his ideas. At Villareal, he will get exactly that, he will have the time and patience required from fans to execute his positional football. The players at Villareal too would suit Emery’s rigid possession-based football. We will see Villareal in Europa League as well this season, a competition that Emery specializes in.
All in all, Villareal seems like the perfect fit for Emery to regain his stature.
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) August 12, 2020
Dani Parejo was Valencia’s best player last season, and if not for their incompetent board, no way they’d let him get away from them. Amidst the crisis at Valencia, Villareal got lucky. In Parejo, they probably got the perfect replacement for Cazorla for free. While Parejo is not as prolific as Cazorla, he is just as good if not better at controlling the pace of the game and dominating the midfield. Parejo will slot right into the Villareal midfield as a traditional no. 8 and do what he does best, be the smooth wave that carries the ball between defense and attack.
In Parejo, Villareal also got a lot of experience, something which they lost when Cazorla and Soriano left. Parejo has played in the Spanish top flight for almost a decade now and has been among the top midfielders every season. Parejo also is a natural leader. You can expect him to rally his troops whenever the situation comes. His last season showed that he is not planning on slowing down and with the way he was treated by Valencia, he will have a point to prove this season.
— Villarreal CF (@VillarrealCF) August 12, 2020
Along with Parejo, the other gift that Villareal received from Valencia was Francis Coquelin. Coquelin too would most probably make it into the starting XI from the get-go due to the lack of options that Villareal has at the defensive mid position. The 29-year old Coquelin has been in La Liga since 2017 before which he donned the Arsenal jersey for 10 years.
Coquelin throughout his career has either played as the base of a midfield three or in a double pivot. Both of these positions have made use of his accurate passing and positional awareness. While Coquelin has never in his career been an elite player and he is far from being that now, he can be a decent midfield option for a team competing for a top 4 spot in La Liga. Moreover, defensive mid was a position that needed reinforcement in Villareal, and the signing of Coquelin at a minimal fee would be considered a great deal for the club.
El #Villarreal y el @realmadrid acuerdan 🤝 la cesión de Takefusa Kubo.
¡Sí, sí, sí, Take ya está aquí!
👉 https://t.co/9vxF5L34gl pic.twitter.com/RsMMtwBEwa
— Villarreal CF (@VillarrealCF) August 10, 2020
For a few weeks, it seemed like Takefuso Kubo to Sevilla was a done deal but Villareal swooped in and managed to sign the Real Madrid youngster on a one-year loan deal. Kubo, nicknamed “Japanese Messi” is one of the brightest young prospects in La Liga. His swift dribbling and vision are reminiscent of a young Leo Messi, hence the nickname, and he seems mature for his age. Last season, he was the only positive in an otherwise doomed Mallorca side and proved that he can dine with the big boys.
Kubo, while immensely talented, is not a sure-shot starter in this Villareal side. Kubo can play as a no. 10, where he can become a facilitator for the forwards and help in penetrating defenses but it is highly unlikely that Emery plays him here, because of how this exposes his defense. The Japanese would most likely be playing as a right-winger, a position for which he will compete with Samuel Chukwueze, another very talented winger. While Kubo may not be able to replace Chukwueze as a starter, he is sure to be right on his heels, ready to slot in for him whenever the time comes which works great in Villareal’s favor.
It would be really interesting to see how Emery manages to slot in these new signings in the line-up. In the writer’s personal opinion, Villareal is the favorites for that fourth Champions League spot this season and have an outside chance to win the Europa League as well. Watch out for the Yellow Submarine!