EVERTON have announced that Spanish side Villarreal will visit Goodison Park for an attractive-looking pre-season friendly.
The game will allow Blues fans to relive memories of their only taste of Champions League football, against the side that narrowly defeated them in a play-off back in 2005.
In that tie, Villarreal won the first-leg impressively, 2-1 at Goodison, before a controversial refereeing decision from Italian Pierluigi Collina denied Duncan Ferguson a crucial second goal in the return game at El Madrigal, and the Spaniards eventually went on to triumph 4-2 on aggregate.
They would advance to the semi-finals of that season’s competition, losing to Arsenal.
Now Juan Carlos Garrido’s side, who finished fourth behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia in La Liga last season, boast the likes of World Cup winners Carlos Marchena and Joan Capdevila, as well as highly-rated forwards Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi, in their ranks, and will head to Merseyside on Friday August 5, kick-off 7.45pm.
The fixture is the latest pre-season fixture to be confirmed by the Blues following the announcement of games against Bury (July 15), Philadelphia Union (July 20) and DC United (July 23), and is by far the most high-profile.
Meanwhile, former Blues legend Peter Reid has tipped Jack Rodwell to establish himself as a star at Goodison Park.
Rodwell is on under-21 duty with England at the European Championships in Denmark, and Reid believes the 20-year-old can benefit from some playing time with Stuart Pearce’s men after an indifferent Premier League campaign.
“This tournament is a bonus for Jack, a bonus for Everton and a bonus for England,” Reid said. “I think he has great, great potential but you need to play the games to develop and this is a chance for him to step up.
“This has come at the right time for him. It will teach him more about competition football and that is great for your education. This could be a great opportunity for Jack Rodwell to show what he can do on a big stage.
“I think he could be a real success in this tournament, it could be just what he needs, and he can be a real star for Everton. He has everything to be a top midfield player and is someone that can get you an important goal, all he needs now is the games.
“He has had injuries, niggling problems, and that stops you getting that run in the side. When you are a young player you need time on the pitch and hopefully he can get himself straight into Stuart Pearce’s starting line-up.
“I saw him play at Old Trafford towards the end of the season. He was playing centre midfield alongside Phil Neville and while you could see his qualities – he almost scored and had some bright moments – he looked as if he lacked sharpness.
“The end of the season probably came too quickly for him and that is why he has a good opportunity to do well and get some games here.”
Elsewhere Cardiff City’s out-of-contract striker Jay Bothroyd has distanced himself from reports linking him with a move to Goodison Park.
The Echo revealed earlier this week that Blues boss David Moyes was not interested in a move for the 29-year-old, and the player himself has been coy on reports that a switch to Merseyside was on the cards.
“Obviously being linked with great clubs is flattering but I'm going away soon to take a couple of weeks to think about my future,” he said.
Young midfielder Tom Donegan, meanwhile, has signed for Fulham a two-year contract.
The 18-year-old, who began his career with Blackburn Rovers, was part of the Blues side which beat Fulham in the Academy League final in May, but has now joined the Cottagers on a permanent deal.