Mexican midfielder Giovani dos Santos has set himself for a breakout season in La Liga after joining Villarreal from Mallorca.
Dos Santos signed for Villarreal on July 9 and the 24-year-old Mexican believes he can help the club, which is based in a small town of the same name just 64 kilometres north of Valencia, challenge the elite of Spanish football in their first season back in La Liga.
Villarreal were relegated at the end of the 2011/12 La Liga campaign, before finishing second in the Segunda Division last season to rejoin the Spanish top tier, but Dos Santos remains convinced the team from a town of just over 50,000 people can challenge the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“Villarreal is a team that in the last years has always been fighting for the UEFA Champions League places,” Dos Santos said on Thursday.
“To talk about them is to talk about a big team in Spain.
“I think they’ve had a small dip last season but they are a team that can fight among the frontrunners.
“I think you have to be ambitious.
“I know the first thing is to make sure that we stay up and we can then aim higher.
“I think I have come to a big club with ambitions and I am very optimistic for the future.”
Villarreal have played in the UEFA Champions League in the 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2011/12 seasons and Dos Santos, who is joining the fourth La Liga club of his career, believes he will see similar success wearing the club’s famous yellow shirt.
Dos Santos first made a name for himself in the 2007/08 season when he made 37 appearances in all competitions in Barcelona as an 18-year-old but since then the Mexican international’s career has stuttered and stalled with unsuccessful stints at Tottenham, Ipswich Town and Galatasaray.
In the past two seasons, Dos Santos has rebuilt his reputation with solid stints at Racing Santander and Mallorca and believes both Villarreal and himself will gain from their new partnership.
“I would like to thank the club for making the effort to bring me here,” Dos Santos said.
“I have big hopes in this new period in my career.
“I really want to have a great season both individually and collectively.
“I think I am coming to a club that is very similar to my style of playing, that likes to play with the ball and play well, and hopefully this season we can bring Villarreal back where it deserves to be, at the top.
“I will try to do all I can so that we have a great season and make the fans happy.”