Before the 2020/21 season, few outside of Spain had heard of a young midfielder by the name of Gonzalo Villar, who had been kicking around in the Spanish second tier with Elche
Roma took a chance on the youngster in January 2020, parting with the best part of €5m to sign Villar, and he has already managed to make that look like a bargain by blossoming into a crucial part of I Giallorossi’s midfield.
He’s been making a real impression with Spain’s under-21s, so here’s everything you need to know about Villar. For Official Football Highlights, Soccer Live Score and Latest Transfer News download Footylight app.
1. Gonzalo Villar’s all about dictating play (For more news download Footylight)
As a Spanish midfielder, it should come as no surprise to hear that Villar thrives on dictating play with his passes.
“I like to hold the ball, when I pass it my hope is that I get it back quickly so that I can switch the play to the other side of the pitch,” he told Il Tempo. “I’m in a huge club so of course the responsibility is enormous, but it doesn’t weigh on me too much.
“The truth is I’m more bothered about passing. It’s just a thing I have inside of me. If I see a teammate open to receive the ball, I don’t shoot on goal. But it’s true that, every now and then, I should be more egotistical.”
2. But Gonzalo Villar also loves a tackle
One of the biggest surprises of Villar’s time in Rome is his emergence as a defensive force. He’s even been compared to Daniele De Rossi, although he often tries to distance himself from that.
“I’ve been working on that,” he said of his tackling ability. “As a reserve or in youth football, I defended very little. It was always my partner in a double pivot who did the dirty work.
“Then you realise that can’t be the case in professional football, especially in the position I’m playing in.
“The gym is helping me. I am more prepared to win duels, to jump head first or to go to ground, which I like a lot. It’s making me much more complete.”
3. Gonzalo Villar’s very confident in his ability (For more news download Footylight)
A combination of self-confidence and a love of messing around on social media saw Villar send out a tweet calling for Spain manager Luis Enrique to turn on the TV and check out his highlights.
Villar has since deleted the post, but he revealed that it wasn’t him who made the decision to take it down.
“That was just me playing around,” he said. “I’m a guy who always likes to laugh, I like cracking jokes in life and making light of things. When it’s time to work, OK. But it’s not possible to always be serious.
“I have to say that tweet was liked by many, but my social media manager wasn’t too happy about it.” For Official Football Highlights, Soccer Live Score and Latest Transfer News download Footylight app.
4. Andres Iniesta is his idol
What’s that? A Spanish midfielder who idolises Andres Iniesta? I’m shocked.
“It was always Andres Iniesta,” he told the Roma website. “I grew up watching Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona when they were dominating in Spain and Europe, and as I midfielder, Iniesta was the one I had my eye on most.
“Even now, before or after matches I like to watch videos of him and other stars like [Zinedine] Zidane and Xavi on YouTube.”
5. Gonzalo Villar wants to blend Iniesta with Sergio Busquets (For more news download Footylight)
If we put together all the pieces we’ve learned about Villar thus far, you can probably work out that Villar’s dream player is a combination of Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
“[I really liked] Iniesta, but I also liked Busquets a lot, he is one of the best in the history of football in the pivot position,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The idea is to be a mixture of the two, depending on what the team needs.” For Official Football Highlights, Soccer Live Score and Latest Transfer News download Footylight app.
6. He compares himself to Dani Parejo & Frenkie de Jong
While his Iniesta/Busquets hybrid still has some work to do, Villar takes inspiration from Villarreal’s Dani Parejo and Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong.
He told Miguel Quintana: “I watch Dani Parejo or Frenkie De Jong. I prefer to have the ball at my feet a lot to make the final play of the game. It is what Parejo does.
“If Parejo is bad, the team is bad. I tell myself ‘Gonzalo, if the team is bad, it’s your fault’.”
7. Gonzalo Villar’s studying at university
Villar is pretty active on social media, where he loves posting about the university degree he studies alongside playing.
When he’s not training, the Spaniard spends his time studying Business Administration and Management at the Universidad Catolica San Antonio de Murcia.
His studies have even earned him the nickname ‘The Professor’. For Official Football Highlights, Soccer Live Score and Latest Transfer News download Footylight app.
8. Gonzalo Villar had to bounce back from a nasty knee injury
In January 2019, Villar suffered a nasty knee injury which eventually forced him to undergo surgery.
Villar and the medical staff at his club, Elche, did all they could to try and keep him from needing an operation, but after natural treatment didn’t work, they were left with no choice but to go under the knife. He missed the best part of three months.
“An athlete cannot think about what they have missed,” he told Diario Franjiverde. “Injuries happen in football. The key is to tackle them with a good mindset. Face difficulties as they come, because there will be more, both in football and in life.”
9. Gonzalo Villar’s played against some big boys (For more news download Footylight)
Villar never actually featured in a competitive game for Valencia, but he did make his unofficial debut in a friendly in May 2018 against Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia.
It was a pretty dull game, with neither side actually managing to score, but that wasn’t important as the match gave Villar the chance to play against some all-time greats.
On the Al-Nassr side that day were Ronaldinho, Alessandro Del Piero, Hernan Crespo and Deco. Not bad.
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