Were it not for injury Ramiro Funes Mori may well have been in Russia but instead while his Argentina teammates were suffering a damaging World Cup defeat to Croatia, Villarreal were announcing that the 27-year-old defender had signed a four-year deal at the club.
Funes Mori will join the Yellow Submarine after almost three years at Everton but after making an initial impact at the club, the Argentina international slipped down the pecking order and last season was reduced to just four appearances due to a knee injury.
Roberto Martínez paid £9.5 million for Funes Mori after the defender had helped River Plate to the Copa Libertadores title and although the fee paid by Villarreal is undisclosed, Everton are understood to have recouped that money and could potentially post a profit with some add-ons.
Middlesbrough and Liga MX club Monterrey, where Ramiro Funes Mori’s brother Rogelio currently plays, were both linked but Villarreal moved swiftly to complete a deal and bolster their squad ahead of the Europa League campaign their fifth-placed LaLiga finish produced.
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) June 22, 2018
Having played 19 times for Argentina, Funes Mori had become something of a regular under Edgardo Bauza before his knee injury and with his strength, passion, aerial ability and talent on the ball it is easy to see why the former River Plate defender was a popular figure.
However, Funes Mori is also guilty of lapses in concentration and defensive errors and at times is reliant on his defensive partner.
Jonathan Maidana, for his role alongside Funes Mori during the period that saw River lift a 35th league title, the Copa Sudamericana, the Recopa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores deserves as much as praise.
If Funes Mori can remain fit then he can be a real asset to the Villarreal squad and given the lack of quality in central defence the chances of him reclaiming a place in the Argentina squad are probably high.