I know Spanish football clubs have been duped by people masquerading as sheikhs before (here’s looking at you, Getafe Abu Dhabi), but this seems to be the real deal. Sharjah FC, who play in the League of the United Arab Emirates, have signed Paco Alcácer from Villarreal, and the two clubs have confirmed it.
I haven’t seen anything definitive about the price, but apparently it’s a loan with an option to buy. It saves us salary and opens up a roster spot for us.
It was a controversial signing, our record signing at €23m (roughly half his pre-market value at the time) and unfortunately it didn’t work out. During three years, Paco played 3275 league minutes, with 40 starters, and scored 11 goals. He was, however, an important part of our Europa League championship, with 6 goals in 520 minutes.
It’s hard to know what exactly went wrong here. After a reasonably promising start, he caught COVID in November 2019 and had six absences attributed to hamstring problems or other muscle injuries. But there always seemed to be something more than that.
It’s very strange that someone who we were told turned down moves to other La Liga clubs (like Celta) and wanted to stay close to his roots in the Valencian Community, has gone to the Middle East. I know the money is good, but I wonder if he felt it necessary to leave Spain to start over. He had been willing to go to a Bundesliga club, so maybe that’s part of it.
In any case, it’s done. I hope that regardless of how you feel about his time here, you’ll join me in wishing him all the best in his new adventure. He’s still only 28, so if he can recover both mentally and physically, he still has a good career ahead of him. I will always remember his penalty against De Gea, and the fact that his last game with us on the pitch was our first win against Barcelona in decades.
Good luck, Paco.