Valencia is one of the most successful clubs ever in Spanish footballing history winning six La Liga titles with a “Youth-First” policy which has resulted in the emergence of some of the greatest players in footballing history in David Villa, David Silva and many more.
To the dismay of many, gross mismanagement and financial issues off the field resulted in a “terrible fall from grace”. Talented youngsters like David Villa, Juan Mata, David Silva opted to move on to greener pastures with the management in no position to hold on after being largely cash-strapped due to massive debt accumulation.
Valencia flirted with relegation on many an occasion over the last 8-10 years, most recently during the 2016-17 season with the club narrowly managing to avoid the drop under interim manager Voro Gonzalez who had been appointed as the 6th manager in less than a year. Gonzalez refused to accept a long-term role paving the way for former footballer Marcelino who decided to sign on after winning an impressive 50% of his games at former club Villareal.
Singaporean club owner Peter Lim who took over the club in 2014 with the outfit in a state of financial crisis also decided to shake things up after strong protests by fans who termed him as the “Judas” out here to ruin them. Lim appointed a new club president in Anil Murthy who enjoyed a very limited experience in managing a footballing outfit, being a former Singapore diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The club required a manager who could motivate the players and bring some much-needed energy, confidence in the gameplay with some excitement and aggression which would make the opposition shake in terror. The fragile financial scenario demanded an exodus and Marcelino decided to take this as an opportunity with both hands to create a team full of young, exciting yet experienced players who could adapt to his gameplay.
Goalie Matthew Ryan was sold to EPL outfit Brighton for a fee of 5.40 million euros with Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, midfielder Enzo Perez and Portuguese winger Nani shunted out of the club. At the same time, Italian striker Simeone Zaza who was considered nothing short of a joke after his penalty theatrics during the Euro 2016 and poor performances for West Ham signed on loan with a permanent transfer for a sum of 14.40 million euros completed recently. Defender Gabriel Paulista who enjoyed a bit-part role at Arsenal decided to join the bandwagon with Marcelino with whom he shared a good relationship having featured under him previously.
Talented winger Goncalo Guedes who was largely relegated to the bench decided to sign on loan with the desire to gain some crucial experience with the most surprising acquisition being that of Inter Milan midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia who had been largely lackluster in his performances for the Italian club, not to forget his comical long-ranger own goal in an International Champions cup friendly tie against Chelsea. Brazilian goalie Neto further jumped at the opportunity to replace outgoing goalie Diego Alves after enjoying limited action at Serie A club Juventus with defender Jeison Murillo finally signed on loan from Inter Milan.
The dynamic and fearless performances on the field certainly pay tribute to the fact that these additions have been extremely wise indeed. Valencia have scored the 3rd highest number of goals in the league with the 3rd joint highest number of shots in the game also. About 60% of the goals scored have been from open play with the outfit also scoring the joint highest number of goals on the counter indicating the hunger to get back and score at any cost running in their veins. The attack has also been ultra-efficient at the same time with the third highest number of shots on target per game indicating the desire to slam every opportunity in the back of the net.
26-year-old Italian striker Simeone Zaza has been one of the highlights of the season and is the highest goal-scorer for Valencia with 11 goals in just 24 appearances and a shot accuracy of about 50%. Winger Goncalo Guedes has set the stage on fire with his electrifying performances scoring 4 goals and 7 assists in 22 appearances creating 32 chances and completing 4 out of 5 passes in every game. Spanish midfielder Dani Parejo has been the man to watch out for racking up the highest number of passes and creating the most number of chances which has resulted in concrete interest from several European powerhouses.
At the same time, this aggression has come at a cost with the outfit racking the second highest number of fouls in the league which is indeed a matter of concern. The defense has been formidable with the likes of Gabriel Paulista and Murillo ensuring rock-solid performances and the third highest number of tackles/game.
Valencia are currently 4th in the league with 53 points and are trailing third-placed Real Madrid by just 1 point with an 8 point lead over Sevilla indicating a certain level of assurance over Champions League action next season which will be a well-deserved accomplishment. At the same time, Marcelino will also be looking to sign up a few recruits who can replace Goncalo Guedes in case PSG demand a huge sum for his services with Geoffrey Kondogbia, Murillo, and Luciano Vietto expected to sign on.
19-year-old Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont can be a good signing as a backup goalie who can ensure solid performances in case of an unexpected injury to Neto. Signing a couple of young talented defenders in Bayer Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah and Nice defender Malang Sarr will also be wise considering their paper-thin defensive squad depth. With Girona’s sensational midfielder Christian Portu expected to sign on for 12 million, investing in the likes of Erik Lamela, Diego Laxalt, and Fabian Johnson will certainly ensure boost Valencia’s chances of making their presence felt in the Champions League next season with the attack well-backed in all aspects.
Valencia are all set to challenge on a level footing against the best footballing outfits in the world and we can certainly expect a thunderous comeback to the levels which they have deserved all along.