Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Roberto Soldado could be out for six months after sustaining a serious knee injury during Villarreal's pre-season defeat to Deportivo La Coruna on Tuesday night (9 August). The news is a terrible blow for the Yellow Submarine, but does give newboy Pato an immediate chance to shine in La Liga, after the Brazilian's fruitless loan spell with Chelsea.
Soldado himself resuscitated his career at Villarreal last season following a struggle for top form at White Hart Lane. The 31-year-old scored just eight goals for Marcelino Garcia Toral's side but was a regular partner for Cedric Bakambu upfront, providing 15 assists as his team finished fourth and reached the Europa League semi-finals.
The former Spurs number 9 was expected to repeat those stats this season. However, he will instead spend the opening stretch of the campaign recuperating from surgery after the knee issue sustained against Deportivo.
"Medical tests carried out this morning on Roberto Soldado have confirmed that the Villarreal CF striker has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and the lateral meniscus in his right knee. The player will undergo surgery in the next few days," Villarrealconfirmed. "Soldado was injured in yesterday's friendly against Deportivo de la Coruña at the Riazor stadium, just a few minutes after entering the field of play after half time, and had to be replaced by teammate Mario González. Stay strong Rober!"
The news is an additional blow for Villarreal ahead of their Champions League play-off double-header with Monaco, to be played on 17 and 23 August. Bakambu is also on the sidelines with an injury, while Leo Baptistao and Adrian, the other two strikers available last season, have left to join Espanyol and Porto respectively
This leaves Pato as the only recognised forward available for the Champions League play-off.
Villarreal signed the Brazilian from Corinthians earlier this summer, despite his underwhelming stint with Chelsea that saw him make just two appearances. The former Milan star was expected to serve as back-up for Soldado and Bakambu, but has instead been given an early chance to impress for the Yellow Submarine against Monaco.