“Approach” is the first word uttered by José Manuel Llaneza, who has been in charge of Villarreal’s sports policy for 24 years, when asked about the idea that best defines the culture of the only finalist in UEFA competitions who does not play in the Premier.
Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s owner, no longer resides in England, and Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahayan is a distant figure with a sacrosanct aura that very few in the club dare even mention. in public. As for Joel Glazer, the American owner of Manchester United, Villarreal’s rival in the Europa League final, he is unlikely to go to the match. The pandemic is not its only impediment. He also did not attend the Champions League final that his team played with Chelsea in 2008.
“This proximity, from President Fernando Roig to the last employee of the club, has paid off,” Llaneza observes. “Eight of the 16 players who took to the field on Thursday at the Emirates against Arsenal are from the quarry. In the team of Riquelme and Forlán that was eliminated in the 2006 Champions semi-final, our quarry had not yet flourished. We did not have that sediment ”.
Chukwueze, Gaspar, Pau Torres, Trigueros, Gerard Moreno, Yéremi Pino, Alberto Moreno and Pedraza were trained at the Villarreal academy. “Many have been with us for more than ten years,” observes the sporting director. “This makes it easier for the veterans who sign up, such as Albiol, Iborra or Parejo, to easily adapt to the club’s doctrine.”
That these guys kept Fernando Roig in London gives an idea of the confidence the players feel in the businessman who has led the club with devotion since promotion to First Division in 1998. Villarreal’s progression since then has been constant – saving two relegations – and carefully grounded in a shrewd buying and selling policy and patient cultivation of the seedbed. Since the summer of 2016, the club has signed players for 270 million euros and sold for 286, with a green balance of 16. In the same period, Arsenal has disbursed 590 million euros in transfers and has sold for 246 .
The triumph of Villarreal by verified merits on the field of play in the current model of competitions open to all, represents the parable that highlights the elitist ideas that forged the Super League two weeks ago. With just over 100 million euros, the budget of the Castellón club is three times less than the budget of Arsenal, which entered 388 million at the end of the 2019-20 financial year, according to Deloitte, and was part of the hard core of the twelve dissident plutocrats from UEFA. If the plan of Arsenal, Madrid, Barça, Atlético, Juventus, Milan, Inter, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea, United and City had been forged, Villarreal would not have been able to demonstrate that they are really superior to their rich adversary in a context that already by itself it favors the financial muscle.
It is good that a Spanish team has broken the hegemony of the English in this year’s European finals ”, Roig celebrated after the victory. “There are three Englishmen and a little Spaniard called Villarreal.”
Roig savored the word “españolito”. Players are also proud to have founded a saga in a municipality of 50,000 inhabitants. Only Monaco (39,000) and Bastia (48,000) had fewer neighbors when they reached their respective Champions League finals in 2004 and UEFA Cup in 1978. Old Trafford, for example, has 76,000 seats.
“We have about a hundred children in the residence of the quarry,” says Llaneza. “In addition to training and studying, they work all year round visiting 12 social associations: nursing homes, autistic people, people with paralysis … It is part of their training. Boys must be taught that not everything is football. If, in addition to players, you don’t make people, you can never play well ”.