Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Nemanja Maksimovic joins Getafe CF

Its official, Nemanja Maksimovic joins Getafe CF for a reported fee of 5.5 million euros. Valencia CF has a buy-back clause implemented in the contract, where for the next 3 years it will have an option to buy-back the player at an increasing fee, before losing that option in the 4th year.

I'm not sure if there is also a sales clause, that Valencia CF would receive a percentage of any potential future sale in case they don't want to exercise the buy-back option.

Maksimovic did end up being useful last year, especially when all the injuries happened and he did play quite a few games for us, but Marcelino favored other options when he had the choice. This leaves us a bit light in the midfield department, especially as we lose some of the youth players who were called in to feature for us and considering we lost Andreas Pereira and Goncalo Guedes, Maksimovic did actually play as a right wing on occasion last year.

At this point Goncalo Guedes is basically lost, the best thing Valencia CF can do is find a decent replacement, someone who can partly cover for him, hardly think our new signing Wass can do it, especially as his prefered position is on the right.

Formation Change?

First off, congratulations to France and all French fans and supporters on the World Cup win. With the World Cup now over, everyone is looking ahead to the new club season. However, the World Cup always has an impact on the new season. The performance of players causes a lot of movement in the transfer market with clubs keen to steal away the best performers. The World Cup also gave us a good taste of VAR (video-assistant-referee) which will be in full effect this new season, hopefully with a few kinks worked out. However, the World Cup is also a lesson in tactics and formations, and that's what I want to speak about today.

I read an article on Superdeporte that suggested that Wass was being experimented by Marcelino as part of a double pivot. I didn't think much of it at the time but while watching the World Cup, I realized that many of the top teams, all use a variation of a formation with double pivots: 3-4-2-1, 4-2-3-1 or a 3-5-2. The champions France played a counter-attacking style as we do, but the core of their success is the double pivot of Kante and Matuidi. No doubt many coaches looked at the tactics used in the World cup either to emulate them or at least to figure out how to stop them, and Marcelino would have been no exception. 

So why change the 4-4-2, which has worked well for us this far? Well, my guess is that Marcelino only opted for this formation since it was simple and effective. Given the time and resources he had, this made sense. But a coach has to adapt to the times and this could be a reason to change. 

It struck me as odd that Marcelino would invest in yet another CDM and another CB. This leaves us with 3 CDMs (Kondogbia, Coquelin, Racic) and 6 CBs (Garay, Murillo, Paulista, Vezo, Diakhaby, and Jimenez). On top of that, there were rumors that Valencia were going to use Nani as a bargaining chip with Sporting CP to facilitate the signing of another CDM, William Carvalho. This didn't materialize. That would've left us with 4 CDMs. Now, this could be for a few reasons. It could be the club is anticipating Kondogbia will be sought after by bigger clubs soon and have already planned his future replacement. Racic could also be a temporary cover for Coquelin whose injury might make him miss some of the next season. As for the CBs, many have speculated that Garay would be on his way out since he has one of the highest salaries and could fetch the biggest price out of the players. However, it could also be in anticipation of a formation change. 

In a formation with 3 CBs, having 5 or 6 CBs doesn't seem so strange anymore. Similarly, a squad with 3 or 4 CDMs, in a formation with double pivots, is not strange either. This, at first sight suggests that we would play a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-5-2. This could looks something like this:

      Rodrigo/Mina
Guedes?/Ferran                 Parejo/Soler
Gaya/Lato    Kondogbia/Coquelin    Wass/Racic    Montoya?/?
Murillo/Jimenez      Garay/Paulista      Diakhaby/Vezo
Neto/Jaume

This is very similar to the way to the way Belgium would play, 3 CBs with wingbacks on either side of the double pivot. In front of them, two mobile and/or creative players with a central striker. Now, if one of the center-backs leaves on loan or is sold, this could be adapted to a lineup similar to France's 4-2-3-1 as follows:

      Rodrigo/Mina
Guedes?/Ferran                Parejo/?                      Soler/?
    Kondogbia/Coquelin    Wass/Racic    
Gaya/Lato     Murillo/Jimenez       Diakhaby/Paulista      Montoya?/Vezo
Neto/Jaume

***Note, I didn't include Zaza in these, as he seems to be getting pushed out. However, he could very well fit in as the central striker in these formations, with Rodrigo playing just behind. Guedes remains a maybe so I kept him but I'm hearing names like T.Hazard, Malcolm and Kostic to replace him. Maksimovic was signed by Getafe, so he wasn't included.

Both formations have been effective in the World Cup especially conducive for counter-attacking football. Of course, this is just pure speculation from my end based on our transfer-activity, some news and my analysis of the World Cup but we'll see what happens in the preseason friendlies and the next month and a half of the transfer window. A lot of the time, there is a cascading effect with transfers where as soon as a club gets their player, the selling club will buy to replace and then that selling club will also do the same and so on, unlocking the deadlock.

As usual, please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments below. Is it safer to stick with the 4-4-2? Or would you like to see a formation change? Which one? Which transfer targets would make it work? How should we lineup? 



Friday, July 13, 2018

Valencia's pre-season friendlies and more transfer exits

Valencia have already started their pre-season training and will play their first friendlies next week, in Switzerland. The "Alpine football festival" will see them play Galatasaray on 21 July at 18:00 and Lausanne on 24 July at 18:30. The club will then have away games at PSV (28 July, 19:00) , Leicester (1 August, 20:45) and Everton (4 August, 16:00.)



All times are Central European summer time (GMT+2) so the last 2 will kick off an hour earlier. The last game will then be a home game for our annual Orange Trophy, against Bayer Leverkusen at 21:30 on 11 August.

More exits to report this week. Nani was the biggest. He returns to Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer. Valencia will get 40% of any future sale. He joined us in 2016 for 8.5 million euro and a cold reading of his stats for 2016/17 aren't bad, with 5 goals and 8 assists, but in reality he was a huge disappointment. His time with us was blighted by injury and inconsistency. We did at least get 2 million from Lazio for his loan but otherwise he's yet another costly flop. Unless he makes a big money move to one of the retirement pastures like China, the MLS or the Middle East, it's unlikely that the 40% sell-on will be of much use, but at least we save on his high wage.

The next high profile departure is Nacho Vidal who has joined Osasuna, again on a free, though with Valencia retaining 50% of his rights, including of any future sale. Deportevalenciano report that there isn't even a buy back option, which seems strange. What a massive disappointment he turned out to be. Just last October he was being named as one of the five best young La Liga prospects, a future Spain international and a certain target for top European clubs this summer. He started last season okay, playing the full 90 against Las Palmas and the last 15 minutes at the Bernabeu, but whatever Marcelino saw in training, he didn't like. It would be a few games before he played again, in the away game at Sociedad where he scored with a great finish

but the next game after that, at Betis killed him off as he was responsible for their second and third goals in a near comeback. Fingers crossed he'll be able to resurrect things in the Segunda.

Speaking of disappointments, Fran Villalba has joined Numancia on a season-long loan. Big things were expected of him a couple of years ago, but he fell off the radar after that.

Gonzalo Villar was expected to sign a new contract but instead he's left on a free transfer to Elche, though Valencia retain 80% of his rights and he'll play more games for them.

A deal to sell Maksimovic to Getafe seems done, with only official confirmation lacking. They'll pay 5 million for him, with Valencia having a buy-back option of 7.5 million, next summer, rising by 1 million in the two summers after that. Valencia have even agreed in advance on a contract for him should he return.




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Daniel Wass and other transfers

Valencia have today confirmed the signing of Daniel Wass from Celta.


He signs a 4-year contact, with an €80m release clause, with the transfer fee reported as €6m plus another possible million based on performances. Wass had a decent season at Celta, scoring 4 goals and providing 9 assists. He's the type of versatile player that Marcelino likes, as he can play centre midfield, attacking midfield, right wing and right back. Signing an experienced player of this level, who'd have been worth 15m had he not been in the last year of his contract, looks like good business to me.

The signing of Kevin Gameiro looks imminent and should be confirmed this week.

The other that the club would like is, of course, Guedes, but there's a feeling now that that's not going to happen. PSG have constantly procrastinated over that one. When Lim offered 30m, they said they'd only do business for 35m. When that was offered, PSG said 40m and now that has been on the table for months they've hinted that they want more. Unfortunately, it's time to move on from that one, unless a repeat loan deal can be struck.

There have also been a few departures. Bakkali has returned to Belgium, signing for Anderlecht for around €1.5m. His time with us was similar to Rodrigo de Paul or Fede. A flair player who was popular with fans, but who never managed to reach the level necessary. 

In a similar boat is Tropi, who made a small breakthrough under Nuno, making a couple of sub appearances, but couldn't progress beyond that. After a couple of seasons on loan in the Segunda his contract expired at the end of June and he is now looking for a new club. 

Lastly, Eugeni Valderrama has signed for newly promoted Huesca, with Valencia retaining a buy back clause and a percentage of any future sale. The club is also pushing Nani towards the exit door, with Portugal and Turkey being possible destinations. Most likely, he'll leave for free as he is in the last year of contract in order to get his high salary off the books. Zaza is also being offered to potential buyers. The club is asking 25m, though we'd probably do business at 20. Mina and Rodrigo could also leave if the price is right.









Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mouctar Diakhaby joins Valencia CF

Mouctar Diakhaby joins Valencia CF from Olympique Lyon for a reported fee of 15 million euros. Mouctar Diakhaby has signed a 5 year contract with Valencia CF that will see him stay in Valencia CF until year 2023.

Mouctar Diakhaby is a central defender and has played for Lyon's first team for the past two seasons, before that he comes from their youth team and at only 21 years of age he has a long future ahead of him, for the good of him and Valencia CF I hope a successful one as well.

This now means that Valencia CF have 5 central defenders and even though we are going to play in 3 competitions this season, that is still too many, so Valencia CF is likely going to sell one of our existing central defenders. I don't know if Marcelino plans to convert Vezo full time right back, but I wasn't impressed by any of our options for right back and was hoping that that would be our first reinforcement.

Either way its an interesting purchase, if it works out it will be great, but once again just purely from a numbers perspective I'm not too excited for this move, as this either means one of the CD's is leaving which would be bad, or Vezo playing at right back with is also bad.

I sure hope they don't sell either of our three key defenders, Garay, Gabriel and Murillo all did very well last season.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Joao Cancelo to transfer to Juventus

Joao Cancelo to transfer to Juventus FC
Valencia CF and Juventus FC have reached an agreement about the transfer of Joao Cancelo from Valencia CF to Juventus FC. Initial negotiations had Juventus FC offering up to 20 million euros and a selection of few players to Valencia CF, but Valencia CF wanted purely a monetary offer and a bigger initial payment.

From what I've been told the initial offer will be a lot bigger, in fact in the region of 25 million euros, with additional 10 million euros to be paid out over 3 years.
So the deal is final and it's in the region of about 35 million euros, purely monetary payment, which is what Valencia CF wanted. From what I've also been told some of those 10 million euros or so that are left will be erased as Valencia CF still has a certain amount unpaid to Juventus FC for Zaza. 


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Transfers update

It's the slow season, so a lot of transfer news shouldn't be expected and with the world cup starting, a lot of things won't become clear until after. A lot of clubs are, understandably, holding on to talents with a view to selling them after the world cup when the values rise.

After the last summer transfer window, when Valencia signed Gabriel and Murillo in the last week and Pereira and Guedes on loan on the last day, we have been quicker off the blocks this time.


Uroš Račić is the first signing of the summer (if you discount Kondogbia.) He signs on a 4-year contract with a 100 million euro release clause. He's more of a defensive midfielder, who also plays in the centre. As such, he's more of a back up for Coquelin, who in turn is second in the ranking to Kondogbia. This is pretty much a "depth"/"prospect" signing along the lines of his countryman Maksimovic rather than a high level signing to improve the squad. 

He looks pretty decent in the official highlights reel but I'd never set too much store by those as they can make any player look like Messi.

Other than that, like most of you, I'm in the dark and we'll have to wait and see. The club's attempts at signing young "prospects" on the cheap haven't been good in recent years. Bakkali looks like he's returning to Belgium. Medran is a goner. Maksimovic has been good as a free signing, but understandably wants more game time and would need it to develop. Santi Mina is the only one approaching a success and it's questionable whether 10 million and two disappointing previous seasons even counts to get here.

This will be the first signing of the Longoria era. The other hope is that it will not affect the club's policy of bringing talented youth like Alcacer, Gaya, Lato, Soler and Ferran into the first team.

The other transfer moves are still to be confirmed. Cancelo continues to be linked with various Italian clubs, though the club seems to be holding out for 40 million, having rejected a 15m plus Marko Pjaca offer. 

The club have unsurprisingly confirmed that they will not exercise the Vietto buy option. The forward line remains up in the air with the official position being that the other three forwards are for sale if the price is right, that being 20m for Mina, 30m for Zaza and 80m for Rodrigo (some sources say 60m for the last.)

Kevin Gameiro is the player most linked with us, with various sources claiming it's a done deal but official confirmation has yet to arrive. He looks most like to replace Zaza, who continues to be linked with a return to Italy. I'd edge towards keeping Zaza, but I can understand the situation. Marcelino prefers flexible players, who will be happy to sit out games when necessary. Zaza has repeatedly shown that he's unhappy at both not starting and being subbed off. Players in similar situations, like Medran and Matt Ryan, who have shown that they are not happy to be rotated, have been quickly shown the door for the good of squad harmony.

The other player most linked with us is Daniel Wass of Celta. I'd sign him like a shot. Decent player, La Liga experience and versatile as he can play centre midfield, right wing and right back. The asking price seems to be 7m, but inexplicably, we seem to be pushing for less, offering 5m for a player who has a 25m buyout. I'd just pay the 7m and be done with it. We are due a windfall from the Champions league. 15.2m fixed rate, at least 16.6m more based on previous ten years, which could rise to 18.8, at least 10m more from TV rights, gate receipts of 8-10m, merchandising adds more and 900,000 euro per point gained in the group stage. Looks like at least 55m even in a bad year. The two other pieces of good news related to that are that we will not have to pay the 23m EU fine this year and will have further time to fight it and that, conversely, PSG will have to raise 60m in transfer sales before 30 June and may therefore have to sell Guedes quickly.

Interesting summer ahead, but don't expect too much transfer news for the next 4 weeks.





Monday, June 4, 2018

2017-18 Season Review: The Best and the Worst

With the season finished, now is a perfect time to sit down and reflect it.

Starting at the beginning, we had finished in a dismal position on the table last season at 12th. The turbulent coaching story continued with Prandelli resigning last season and Voro stepping in as usual to cover. As if that wasn't enough the players, which so much money was splashed on, did not live up to even fractions of their price tag. 

This season was going to be different. We signed a coach that had a track record, experience and was familiar with the country, it's language and the league. The investment strategy for players was different as well: take the players on loan and only should they perform well do we consider investing in them. Of course, part of this was due to necessity since Financial Fair Play would restrict our buying ability regardless. Some players like Paulista, Murillo, Zaza and Neto joined on permanent deals right away (with payments in installments), while others like Kondogbia and Guedes were considered for the future via the loan deals. In addition, excess baggage that didn't prove it's worth last season: Abdennour, Santos, and Nani, was sent elsewhere. Other young players were loaned out as a chance to prove their worth and either come back or be purchased by the club to which they were loaned. 

This set the stage for what was to be a brilliant season to watch and a great success, especially relative to previous seasons. We returned to the Champions League with a few games to spare, played an attractive brand of football, produced consistent performances and challenged the top teams.

From the beginning, we would go on huge runs of great form and build up a streak of undefeated games and great form for our players. Although we did struggle breaking down teams that would park the bus or aggressively break the flow of the counter attacks, we did punish almost every team that challenged us in an open game. The team would be soaring and then the gravity of injuries would pull us back down at points in the season. Our squad depth would be exposed, having no one on the bench to offer anything different. Then, Zaza would go on goal drought, Neto's feet were frozen solid, we would have a crisis in defense and midfielders were used to cover for injured defenders, and finally our right-back would give an opening for all teams to exploit. Despite all that, we managed to achieve the goal and if we were offered this position at the beginning, most if not all of us would've taken it. We actually did even better, as we could've very well finished 3rd or even 2nd.

So without further ado, here is the best and the worst for me in this season:

Best Player: Geoffery Kondogbia

Huge difference to previous holders of the position in previous seasons (Danilo, Enzo Perez, Javi Fuego). Offers great strength, dominant presence and great work ethic. He facilitated our counter-attacking style by intercepting passes and winning the ball back in midfield to start such a move. He had great driving runs forward taking on defenders confidently and producing a good pass or shot to finish. A great asset to have while defending corners and set pieces as he has won the aerial duels many times. He is well liked by the fans as well as his fellow players. Easily justifies his price tag and is undoubtedly a steal for this amount (25 million euros). The deal to sign him permanently was expected and good to see it go through.

Mentions:

Guedes: for taking our attacking game to the next level with his creativity, dribbling and pace.
Rodrigo: great goal tally, really stepped up in the second part of the season and a well-deserved Spain NT call-up
Gaya: perhaps the only constant in defense, one less for Marcelino to worry about.
Soler: Growing talent, versatile (midfield and wing play) nice to see him with the Spanish NT as well.

Worst Player: Martin Montoya

No doubt this has been our weak point all season. We got him on a free transfer, so it was a good deal in that sense. He wasn't always poor, he had some decent games, a few good. But when he was bad, it was really bad and we were exploited. It didn't help that his competition for the spot was Nacho Vidal who was ostracized by Marcelino from the start. He was then left to compete with Vezo for the spot and lost out to him a few times.

Mentions:

Nacho Vidal: I take it if he wasn't used all this time, then Marcelino doesn't value him highly.

Best Game: Real Betis 3 - Valencia 6

Despite conceding 3 goals and almost throwing away a 4 goal lead, it was very entertaining to watch. Lots of contributors, with 6 different goal scorers. Very open game from both teams, almost a comeback at the end only for the momentum to go back to us in the final minutes. Great away win.

Mentions:

Valencia 4 - 0 Sevilla: It felt so good handing a wide margin loss to a rival that's given us so much trouble. Very convincing win.

Worst game: Valencia 1 - 4 Real Madrid

A lot of factors for this. Losing to rival in a 6 point game. The controversial referee decisions at their worst. Losing at home, etc.

Mentions:

Getafe 1-0 Valencia: although we lost by one goal, this was quite embarrassing. A type of game where the other team played aggressive to break up counters, ended up with 10 men very early (25 min into the game) and still managed to beat us. 


Best Goal: Guedes vs Sevilla (4-0 home game)

Guedes summarized in this goal. Receives the ball in midfield, accelerates quickly taking out 2 players, gets to the edge of the box and fakes two more players before smashing it into the top corner from range. It was 

Mentions: 

Guedes vs Betis (3-6 away game): edge of the area, with a wall of defenders in front yet smashes it into top corner.
Rodrigo vs Leganes (0-1 away game): tight game, needed a goal, just substituted in, Kondogbia wins the ball back at the edge of the box, Rodrigo takes possession, runs across the edge of the box and bends it away from the keeper and into the net.
Vietto vs Girona (0-1 away game): struggling on form and getting tons of criticism and whistles but remains focused and produces a great goal. Carried the ball from midfield to the edge of the box, used the defender to block the keeper's vision and curled it to the top corner.
Vietto vs Las Palmas (Copa del Rey 4-0 home game): debut game, saw the keeper of his line and beat him from insane range


That's it from me. Just thought I would discuss this as we haven't had a chance to fully reflect on some of these things. Now I'll pass it to all of you.

Who were your best and worst players of the season? Best and worst games of the season? And Best goal of the season? Other comments or suggestions for improvement?