By Rodney Ballantine
Valencia have been stating there intentions this summer, and to move forward from their good performance of last season where Los Ches finished third in La Liga and performed to a high level in the Champions League. As documented in previous article’s from myself, the previous two seasons the manager, Urai Emery, has been trying to form a new team by letting those players that have been deemed over aged and underperformers go, as well as those that could bring in some much needed revenue to the club, by bringing in a new mix, which will be a team for the future and hopefully with a little bit of luck be able to perform to a high standard as of now.
Last season was a good demonstrative of how the plan which was put into action was beginning to work, with as said before, a good performance throughout the season which culminated in a good result and somewhat better than what those involved with the club were expecting. This summer, the club have been sticking to their philosophy, with Cesar, Vicente, Joaquin and Del Horno, being some of the old guard who have been let go, to leave space for those who will replace them and bring some new blood to the club with new desires and motivation. There is no doubt that these group of players have been outstanding performers for Valencia in the past, but the decline in the amount of appearances which they have been making over the last few seasons, and the standard of these, have been few and far between, so the correct decision has been taken which will allow the club to move on, and keep improving as well as to look towards the future.
One of the new players that has come in, all be it on a one season loan from Madrid, is Sergio Canales, a very accomplished young footballer, who after one year in Madrid, in what proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, and underachievement for the player, will be looking to make an impression and show what he is capable off. Emery should be looking to team him up with Mata for the forthcoming season, but with Arsenal from England pressurizing, it remains to be seen if Valencia will buckle and sell on their prize asset, something which I hope doesn’t happen as I would love to see these two team up next season, along with the other young talent they have at their disposal.
Apart from adding Canales, to an already impressive midfield, they have added other players who have La Liga experience, something very important as the player will need no time to adjust to the style of a different league, and will already know what to expect. Some of the players they have added have been Parejo (Getafe), an impressive midfielder who will add even more to that area, as already mentioned, also with the loss of Cesar, the club were lacking some cover in the goalkeeping department, and Emery has been shrewd, as always, and added Diego Alves (Almeria) and Pereira (Sporting Braga, Portugal). The defense has also been shored up, with the addition of the impressive defender Rami from Lille in France. These players have added a youthful aspect to the squad, and those that have been there for a few years now, such as the old head Albelda, the impressive central midfielder Ever and Pablo Hernandez, a tricky winger in the now departed Joaquin mold will be looked upon, to take over the responsibility of helping these new recruits to settle quickly in, and help the team to click from the off.
This year, things will not be so easy in the Spanish league. The big two, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have strengthened further, and as has been the case the last few years, it seems the rest will be chasing these two, so with reason all the others will be looking at third spot and the automatic Champions league place which comes along with it. Apart from the usual suspects who will be looking to grasp this spot, Sevilla, Villareal and Athletico Madrid etc, who have all seen big changes in the summer, there should be a new challenger, in the form of Malaga, who with the help of their super rich owner, have been the most busiest team in the transfer market not only in Spain but the rest of Europe. If Pelligrini gets this good group of individuals to play like a team, I would expect them to make a more than serious push towards the third spot in the league. Nonetheless, I think, Valencia look the most exciting team, with a better squad than the others, and I would expect them to achieve this position, as well as a run to the quarter finals of the Champions League, although, anything more, would be most unexpected.