Fernando Roig NeguerolesCEO of the Villarreal, reviews a season of successes for the submarine fleeing complacency. The Champions League semi-final and the promotion of Villarreal B to Second -the only team in the First Division that has its subsidiary in the second professional category- show that the movement is demonstrated by walking. But there is a long way to go.
Ask. They come from signing a great season at all levels and in almost all the club’s teams, and a particularly exciting centenary is presented with Europe, a subsidiary in the second and a women’s in the First Iberdrola It is difficult to stay with something in particular of everything they have vivid?
Response. There are two specific events, such as the Champions League semi-finals and something more recent, such as the promotion of the subsidiary to Second B, which are very important. We are the only club with a First team and another in Second. We start from scratch like every year. We have had good seasons, even achieving our first European title. You have to make a good team every year and have good management to continue being at the top. This doesn’t stop
P. Is the club, beyond being a position above or below, at the ideal moment, perfect, that you had always wanted?
R. We must not forget that we are in a difficult situation due to the pandemic, which has affected football a lot and its effects are still continuing. Spanish football has been affected a lot, we are not doing well and we have to adjust the costs. We have made a strong commitment, with a lot of investment in recent years. But on a sporting level we are very good, with great players. Summer is long and until August 30 we can make the best possible template.
I wish Pau was here all his life, but the reality of football is another
P. The qualitative leap that the Champions League has given them at a media, sports and economic level has been tremendous
R. At all levels, our players are valued and direct income is very important. But I have already said that we have invested very heavily and this year we are hardly going to make a profit. Next year we are going to play another competition, like the Conference, which we value and want to go far, but obviously the reality is that it will give us much less benefits.
P. Well, with the panorama you draw of the current situation, without those great seasons, the situation could be difficult.
R. It is clear that we have achieved it, it has helped the stability of the club. But what it has meant for everyone is very important, the illusion generated by winning a title or reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
Q. Did you ever see yourself in that box in Paris at the Champions League final?
R. We were close and managed to draw the tie, but Liverpool is a great team and in a few minutes they scored two goals against us. It was very difficult to come back, but of course for a moment we saw each other. But the reality is that it was very difficult and circumstances like Gerard’s injury didn’t help. Perhaps we would have had the option.
P. The general public will see that Villarreal will enter 60 or 70 million euros in the distribution of the Champions League and they will think about record signings this summer
R. Last year we made a very strong bet, let’s anticipate losses because it was a team above our possibilities. We want to have a good Champions League and try to consolidate ourselves among the top four in the league. But it could not be because of the wear and tear that Europe caused. We’re not far from it, but the club is healthy, in a good position, although some adjustments will have to be made. The Champions will not serve us to sign Mbapp and Messi, but to cover what happened last season. We continue to have more expenses than income and we will have to adjust.
P. As your coach says, the big jump in level for Villarreal would be to be in the Champions League for two consecutive seasons?
R. Of course we would love to, but the most important thing is to be in the First Division every year, which we struggled to achieve not long ago and lost it 11 years ago. From there, being in Europe every season gives stability and spending two or three years in the Champions League would give a huge leap in quality.
P. The promotion of the subsidiary has represented the success of the work in the quarry. Do you see it as the reward for the dedication of so many years?
R. It is a consequence of the players you have worked with since you were little. It’s true that over the years they get stronger and make the team stronger. I read the other day that the most valuable first-team players on the market are two homegrown players like Pau and Yeremy, which gives you an idea. Of course we believe, we have brought out great players, like the ones we have mentioned or Rodri Hernndez, who is at City. By working well, great players come out who in their first years can lower the cost of the squad and who over the years already earn like the best. Either we take them out from below or at 22 years old it is impossible to sign them. Players like Pau, there are very few of his level on the market.
The Champions will give us to cover last year’s investment
P. Players have been removed regardless of the category in which the subsidiary has been. What will the fact of being in Second give them?
R. Yeremy barely played in B. A good player arrives regardless of the category, but the close one helps. You can also incorporate young players who would not come in the First RFEF and now they do. In addition, it is better economically since the one we were in was a deficit category and in the second you can spend the same.
P. 15 years ago with the rise of the subsidiary, they took the opportunity to sign many promising South American football players (Musacchio, Hernn Prez, Montero…) The leap in quality is important and it may force them to sign.
R. The situation is different because it’s a well-made subsidiary and we have players who are out on loan and can be here if they don’t have a place in first. We still have to make some of those bets, but not more than two or three.
P. The reserve team will play at La Cermica when the works are finished. Are you considering conditioning the Sports City for the following season so that it can host Second Division matches?
R. We’ll see how people respond, it’s difficult because we lack space for what the league demands for audiovisual issues. We could raise it, but for now there is a lot left and we are going to try to fix it to play half a season. We will decide in the future.
Q. Has the league already given you the go-ahead to play only five home games in the first round?
R. The schedule comes out soon, but I understand that we will play around five games at home. We will play in the Ciutat de Valencia and we will provide all the facilities for the people, buses… we will have to ask them for an effort. It is for a good purpose, such as leaving a more comfortable and beautiful stadium.
Q. Will a subsidiary in Second allow a first team with fewer chips to be allowed?
R. It is clear that with good U23 players the squad can be shortened. But at the moment there are many players, we have to study each case and we will do it until August 30. It is true that it is not necessary to have all 25 chips covered. If there are fewer and the team is competitive, the better. We have hardly ever covered them.
P. At this point in the year there is much talk of multi-million dollar offers and in the case of Villarreal it is made from players like Danjuma or Pau Torres. Villarreal currently have important offers on the table for their players?
R. As of today there is nothing. It is true that we have very good players that there may be interest in some of them. But right now the reality is that we don’t have any firm offers for any player.
Q. Is Villarreal willing to go out on the market to sign players if there are no “big” sales beforehand?
R. If there are no big sales, the reality is that we have 25 players to which we can add some on loan. Economically, no. And sportingly at this time there are no chips. Thats the reality.
Q. Pau revealed that he has an offer to renew. Would you like him to be a “one club man” at Villarreal?
R. We would love it if, except for his year on loan in Malaga, he began and finished his career at Villarreal. He is among the ten best defenders in the world for sure, although I would tell you that he is among the five, but I am not objective. I wish a boy from the town would be here all his life. But the reality of football is different and there are very powerful teams. We’ll see, but we wouldn’t have any problem if he spent his entire career here.
P. Do you foresee a summer with few movements in football in general and for Villarreal in particular?
R. No, I think there will be movements. Another thing is the times and quantities. But in the end there will be more player changes than people now realize there are going to be.
We put together a team beyond our possibilities and we will have to make adjustments
Q. Does the Villarreal fan have reasons to get excited thinking that Lo Celso can play for Villarreal next season?
R. It is a complex operation, but the truth is that the player has been happy here and we with the player. We will do everything possible to be able to count on him next year, but it will not be easy to achieve it.
P. Would it be the great operation of the summer for the club?
R. It’s just that he’s a very good player who has been at PSG, Betis, Tottenham, a very good half year here… he’s a starter with Argentina, a very important footballer. He has given us a lot and hopefully he can give us more in the future.
P. What would you like for the next season? Get a Champions League place, fight for the Cup, for a Conference in which you start as favorites?
R. The important thing is the league, although it is true that when you reach advanced stages in Europe you can get confused because what can be achieved is beautiful. Let’s see if we can make a great Cup for once, which we have never done, or fight for the Conference, but the main objective will be to fight to be as high as possible in the League. And what is important is that it is generating a large base of younger and younger people who support us. Before we were 7,000 unconditional, now we are 12,000. We put 18,000 every Sunday in the stadium, each time with a better atmosphere. With the reform of the stadium the acoustics will be better and it will be a hot field where the fans win points.