Villarreal Season Preview: The Yellow Submarine hope to kick on after a disappointing 18/19 
Santi Cazorla in preseason action against Levante (Getty Images/Quality Sport Images)

Villarreal Season Preview: The Yellow Submarine hope to kick on after a disappointing 18/19 

Villarreal will set their sights on a return to Europe after a poor showing last season that saw the club fighting the drop.

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Louis Miller

After a disappointing season last time out, that saw the club spend most the time fighting for survival, Villarreal will be hoping to secure a top-half finish this time out.

Last season saw the arrival of Santi Cazorla on a free after a nightmare end to his time at Arsenal, but the side underperformed under the tutelage of Javier Calleja who only managed a 14th place finish.

After a solid transfer market on paper, the side will be looking to secure a solid top-half finish this time out.

Transfer Business Overview

The standout signing of the summer for Villarreal is the acquisition of the experienced centre back, Raul Albiol, who joined from Napoli for £4.5 million. The former Real Madrid man, who played 20 times in Serie A and six in the Champions League last season, will bring bags of experience to the heart of the defence and could form a solid partnership with Ramiro Funes Mori.

El Submarino Amarillo also signed former Sevilla and Liverpool fullback Alberto Moreno on a free. Moreno is an attacking threat who likes to bomb forward with every opportunity and will provide pace and width on the left. Although question marks remain about this defensive side to his game a return to the more technical La Liga could benefit him after an inconsistent time in the physical Premier League.

One to look out for is the arrival of Andre Zambo Anguissa from Fulham on loan. Anguissa is still only 23 and will be looking to restart his career after a torrid time in West London. The player failed to justify his £22.5 million price tag when he moved from Marseille and will want to show the world what he can do. The defensive midfielder will likely anchor the midfield with Vincente Iborra, providing the stability for Cazorla to play in a free role.

Manager

Calleja remains in the hot season for the 2019/2020 season after first being appointed in 2017. He had previously worked with the youth sides, before getting his promotion to the senior squad, and guided the club to a fifth-place finish in his first season in charge.

The Spaniard endured a tough second season and was sacked in December 2018 with his side only three points above the drop, only to be reappointed after only a month following the sacking Luis Garcia.

Player to Watch

The saviour for much of last season and a real footballing feel-good story, Cazorla remains Villarreal’s key man this year. After being told he would likely never play again, he moved to Spain and received his career back, earning himself a return to the Spain squad and becoming the heartbeat for the Yellow Submarines. Cazorla scored four and assisted 10 in 35 league appearances but his influence shone through in more than simply his goals. The Spanish international would often make himself stand up and be counted when his side really needed him.

One for the future

Nigerian youngster Samuel Chukwueze will be hoping to kick-on after an impressive 2018/2019 that saw the player score five goals in 26 La Liga games. The 20-year-old represented Nigeria at this summer's Africa Cup of Nations and grabbed his only international goal in the quarterfinal victory over South Africa. Chuckwueze predominately plays as a right-winger, cutting inside on his left foot, however, he can feature anywhere along the front three. 

Predicted finish

Despite vastly overachieving in recent years for the size of the club, Villarreal has now established itself as a European club and anything else feels like a failure. The fans and the board will know that Calleja is capable of guiding the side into Europe after his first season in charge and with the window still open to add another tool to the attack, Villarreal are capable of mounting a challenge to the top six but might just fall short due to the strength of the competition round.

Predicted finish - Seventh.

 

 

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