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Stable Valencia dreams of challenging Spain’s top two

Coach Unai Emery has had a busy summer bringing in some promising players and they should make up for the loss of Juan Mata.


Can Valencia trouble the top two this season?

A couple of years ago, Valencia CF were staring into the depths of an abyss that included foreclosure of their assets and potentially the end of their very existence as a football club. The club’s debts were huge, they had finished out of the Champions League places in sixth, and the departure of their prize players, David Villa and David Silva, looked a certainty.

Enter Manuel Llorente, the latest and apparently looniest of a long line of very loopy Valencia presidents. Llorente’s ingenious policy towards tackling Valencia’s money troubles seemed to be to pretend they didn’t exist and hope they would go away. Behold the mysteries of the times we live in, it seems to have worked a treat.

Painful as it is to regurgitate a cliché, I will bite the bullet in this case and suggest that there was in fact method in Señor Llorente’s apparent madness. His dogged refusal to sell off his two best players was based on a fundamental belief that a sharp drop in Valencia’s league position would see them slide down the league in the manner of Deportivo La Coruña, whereas a place in the Champions League would provide them with a cash injection that could be used as the foundation on which a turnaround could be planned. The Valencia municipal authorities were prevailed upon to support the club which was represented as a cornerstone of the community and Bancaja, the Valencia-based bank, was talked into helping keep the wolves at bay.

Once Champions League qualification was achieved, the Davids were flogged off and the process of rebuilding was begun in earnest. Though their best players were lost, Valencia had managed to keep the promising Juan Mata for another year as well as bringing in the striking duo of Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz. Things were becoming more stable, although it was far from being a quiet summer.

United under Unai

However, after finishing third In la liga last season, the summer that has just passed has been relatively calm. Unai Emery, who has been in charge since 2009, has quietly gone about the business of strengthening his squad. Mata has gone to Chelsea, but a number of other additions make los Che look an impressive prospect this season.

Almería were appalling for the most part last campaign but their star was Diego Alves, who was as good a goalkeeper as any in la liga. The young Brazilian will surely provide the stability at the back that Vicente Guaita patently failed to. Also picked off the deck of the good ship Almería as she sank into relegation was Pablo Piatti, the quickest forward in la liga. The whippet-like striker looked excellent in spells at Almería, and the prospect of seeing him play in a superior side is mouth-watering.

Also added to the squad in January was French international central defender Adil Rami from Lille, who was, however, loaned back to the French side for the rest of the season and helped them win Ligue 1. It is notoriously difficult for central defenders from other leagues to adapt to the game in Spain but Rami is a promising prospect. A debut goal in the victory over Racing Santander certainly did him no harm. The deadline day signing of former Espanyol man Victor Ruiz from Napoli also serves to bolster Emery’s options in defence.

Strong up front

In addition to Piatti, the attack has been strengthened by the arrivals of Dani Parejo from Getafe and Sergio Canales, on a two-year loan from Real Madrid. Parejo has been quietly impressive for Getafe and at his best may remind Valencia fans a little of midfield creator Pablo Aimar. Canales was a sensation the season before last when, aged 17, he put in some tremendous performances for Racing Santander. He spent last season warming the Bernabéu bench with the rest of José Mourinho’s outcasts, but claims he has benefitted from training with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká. If he can rediscover some of the form he showed when he burst onto the scene, Valencia may well have a tremendous bargain on their hands.

Still around are Pablo Hernández and fellow Spain internationals Soldado and Aduriz. Meanwhile, Ever Banega has developed into a force in central midfield, albeit a somewhat inconsistent one. Brazilian striker Jonas will provide a useful alternative up front.

While it would be a bit much to speak of this young team as title contenders, they certainly have the potential to provide stiff opposition to Real Madrid and Barcelona in the games they play against the big two. And with a bit of luck, a steady run into the latter stages of the Champions league looks a distinct possibility. A fully resurgent Valencia would be fantastic news for la liga. Along with the revamped Málaga, the steadily improving Villarreal, Atlético Madrid led by new arrival Falcao and Bilbao under Marcelo el loco Bielsa, they could even manage to steal some thunder from the two clásico rivals.

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Published: Sep 7 2011
Category: Iberoblog, Featured
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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1 Comment for “Stable Valencia dreams of challenging Spain’s top two”

  1. Though I would have loved to post something original, I don’t think I would have made justice to it as much as this article does.

    Gives a real good insight into los che’s income and expense and what the future predicts.. And the revenue distribution in the league..

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