Mexico players Giovani dos Santos and Javier Aquino rejoined Villarreal training on Thursday, nine days after the rest of the club's players due to rest after the World Cup.
The two practiced apart from the regular team, while Dos Santos' brother, Jonathan, who joined the club on a transfer worth reportedly 2 million euros from Barcelona this spring, was out of practice for the third straight day as he underwent testing after off-season knee surgery.
Giovani dos Santos said his aim is to improve upon last year's 12-goal performance in La Liga and Copa del Rey. The Yellow Submarine begins play in La Liga on Aug. 24 vs. Levante.
"I am aware that I need to keep improving. Last season was good, but in this one I have to do things better," Dos Santos said at a news conference on Thursday. "I have great teammates and the coaching staff has faith in me. My objective is to get more playing time throughout the season."
He said he was optimistic about Villarreal's quest.
"I would prefer to say that the objective is to stay in the first division and play as we did last year," the 25-year-old said. "We can stay high up on the list and try to equal last season but we can also improve and be fighting for one of the top spots."
Regarding Mexico's World Cup performance, Dos Santos said he was disappointed with the knockout loss to Netherlands.
"The team surpassed expectations," he said. "But we went out a bit hurt by the way we were eliminated. The important thing is that we left a good image that we have young players for the future and that we have good players for the next World Cup."
Dos Santos said he is grateful to Villarreal for the "trust and stability they have given me."
"This club has everything to help a player get better," he said. "The base from last year is very good. In addition, they have added young players who have a lot of desire and I am sure we will have a great season. I still haven't trained with them but I know them and I know they are quality players who can help."
He added that he worked behind the scenes to encourage his brother, also a product of Barca's La Masia, to join him.
"I am very happy because it is a dream with both had since we were little," Dos Santos said. "Here in Villarreal the welcomes are very warm and in the dressing room we have been well received. I knew Villarreal was interested so I talked to my brother so he would come. I am very happy that it all worked out and he is now here."
Giovani, however, stressed that in the end it was Jonathan's decision.
"I only spoke well about Villarreal. He had better offers from a financial standpoint but he was thinking beyond that. He wants to win and he knows that here he has the best chance to do that. Villarreal is a team that has a style similar to Barca's. They like to play the ball well and we have great players in the centre of the pitch."
Giovani welcomed the addition of possible rivals for his role at forward. "On all great teams there is a high level of competition and that is good because it brings up the level of your game," he said.