Friday, August 17, 2018

Simone Zaza to Torino FC

Well it seems neither of the linked clubs actually got Zaza, and in fact it is Torino FC who acquired the player on a one year loan deal with an option to purchase the player in the region of about 15 million euros.

Solid player and helped Valencia CF immensely last year, I think he and Rodrigo were the best attacking duo and their different styles contributed to making defenses fear them and have a hard time defending against both. Unfortunately Zaza is a passionate player and Marcelino couldn't handle his character, so even since last year after the winter transfer window he started getting less and less playing time, essentially ultimately coming mostly from the bench or once every three matches, not having any continuity in playing.

I wish Simone Zaza good luck in his new club and plenty of success, he deserves it. 

Simone Zaza to leave Valencia CF

Simone Zaza is a goner and within 24 hours we will find out where his future lies. There are various reports coming from all over the media, and supposedly several clubs interested in acquiring the player, though it seems as Valencia CF hasn't deemed their offers worthy.

There have supposedly been offers for Simone Zaza from Nice, Marseille, and most recently Sampdoria. Seems like Sampdoria's offer is the best one for Valencia CF with a reported 15 million fee for the player in two installations.

The sale of Simone Zaza won't mean much for Valencia CF in terms of increased budget for transfers as it is going to go to fill the existing budget and replace money we've already spent on players, which truth be told is very little so far this season. Most of our new players have arrived on loan deals with purchase options for next year, though we have dished out some amount of money. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Denis Cheryshev rejoins Valencia

Valencia announced today that Denis Cheryshev will rejoin the club. It's a loan for this season and sources disagree on what will happen next summer, whether there's a buy option and whether it's compulsory or not.

The news came as a real surprise. All our previous signings had been linked well before, but this just dropped without warning. Just this morning the Valencian sports press were talking about Ivan Falque of Torino as a possible reinforcement on the left. Like the Gameiro signing this one will have its critics.

His previous loan with us at the start of 2016, during the ill-fated Gary Neville era shows the pros and cons. He played six games and did really well. He scored the late winner against Espanyol, ending a long winless run for us and scored a good equaliser against Atletico Madrid (though we went on to lose) with another winner and assist against Malaga. But he suffered a hamstring injury 6 weeks into his loan for us and a sub appearance against Villarreal would prove his last game, as he was operated on after that and Valencia didn't pursue his signing due to worries about his injuries.

Marcelino then took him to Villarreal where it's been a similar story. He missed 32 of 51 games in 2016/17 due to injury and 11 of 46 last year. His best moment came in the world cup: with 4 goals in 5 games he is widely agreed to be one of the best XI from that tournament.

So there's the issue. When he's fit, he's a great player with good pace, a good eye for goal and lots of experience in Spain, but he seems very injury-prone. However, this loan (signing?) seems to be in addition to Guedes rather than instead of him. It also reduces the pressure to secure a quick deal for Guedes. In the absolute worst case scenario and the Guedes deal falls through we have Cheryshev and Wass at least to cover the left wing. With Guedes, we'll have a decent and experienced alternative, so I'm mostly optimistic about this, especially since he's worked with Marcelino before.

What do you think? Good or could we have done better?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Gameiro versus Zaza / Medrán leaves

Valencia officially announced yesterday that a deal had been reached with Atletico Madrid to bring in Kevin Gameiro, subject to a medical which should prove a formality. Sources report the fee as being 16 to 16.5 million euros, with another 2 possible. The signing, together with the arrival of Batshuayi, strongly seems to suggest that Simone Zaza will leave. The only thing that I could see halting that would be if Real Madrid bought Rodrigo, and they've shown no signs so far of meeting the asking price.

Of all the signings this summer, Gameiro is easily the most controversial, especially as it's understood he'll be replacing Zaza, a fan favourite. Gameiro's age, his price and his unspectacular stats have led to questions whether this is worth it, especially since it means we are helping out a direct rival by taking a discard off their books. So why ditch Zaza?

The first answer would be that the latter's stats are even worse than Gameiro's. His first half-season for us was unspectacular. Then he hit a real purple patch in September and October last year, but since then he's been failing to hit the target, notching up only 4 goals in his last 29 appearances. In contrast, Mina scored 12 playing significantly less time. Of course, stats aren't everything. Zaza does a lot more for the team in general with hold up play, work rate, hassling defenders and even tracking back to help the defence. But the fact remains, if he'd continued scoring at a reasonable rate, we wouldn't be discussing this.

The clearest answer to the question therefore seems to be Marcelino's methods. He's consistently made it clear that he wants a harmonious squad and players with egos like Alves, Negredo, Nani and Orellana or those who demand constant playing time (Ryan or Medrán) have been quickly shown the door. Zaza seems to fit into both those categories. He clashed several times with Marcelino and there were a couple of games where he seemed to be sulking and not giving it his all.

Ultimately I have mixed feelings on that one. I can see why Marcelino has chosen to move Zaza on, but I'll miss him and I'm not excited by the replacement, who will have little resale value. The other issue is that by bringing in Gameiro before Zaza leaves, we have reduced our bargaining power for the latter, as teams now know that we will need to sell him. We shall have to see how Gameiro does.

Mentioning Medrán, he has joined Rayo Vallecano on loan for the season. With the midfield well stacked, and Kangin Lee now on the fringes, his chances would have been very limited. My only issue is that we should have just moved Medrán on permanently. The Rayo deal doesn't include any buy option. I would have put a compulsory one in, of between a million or a million and a half, subject to Rayo staying up. As it is, he will come back next summer in the last year of his contract and we likely won't get anything for him.

Lastly, to update the situation from my previous post about the Champions league. We need one of PSV, Salzburg or Benfica to lose in qualifying to achieve pot 3. Benfica are playing this week in Turkey, defending a 1-0 lead against Fenerbahce. In money terms, we need Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv to lose in qualifying as we will get 1.1 million extra for each of those eliminated.

A week to go to the first game and with Guedes likely, we look to have a decent squad.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Valencia CF 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Valencia CF won the orange trophy by outclassing German Bundesliga team Bayer Leverkusen. This was Valencia's first home match in the preseason and it was the final test before the kickoff of the new season. Valencia CF has been improving in their play over the last 3 preseason friendlies and it culminated in this victory over Bayern Leverkusen.

Valencia CF started the match in high tempo and was able to pressure Bayern from the start, having few shots on goal early on. In the 10th minute Rodrigo found himself in a perfect opportunity to score the first goal of the match, but unfortunately his close range shot went wide. He would need to improve his shooting accuracy if he is to score as many goals as last season and stay as the first choice striker, especially after Valencia CF got Michy Batshuayi on loan deal from Chelsea FC with an option to purchase the player at the end of the season.

The first goal came in the 29th minuta when Santi Mina scored after a bit of chaos in Bayer's penalty area on an assist from Garay. Valencia CF had few chances after this as well, including a dangerous Santi Mina shot, but he also missed from a good position.

Fortunately the misses won't last long and it was Santi Mina who stole the ball from Bayer Leverkusen, released Rodrigo who calmly slotted the ball past Bayer's keeper and into the net.

The second half was a different affair, with Bayer Leverkusen coming out stronger and determined to get something out of the match, but Valencia CF managed to withstand their initial pressure and normalize the match. Both teams had few decent chances, but ultimately between all the changes and stops the the game, it was a much more uneventful half.

Valencia CF would ultimately make the game 3-0 with a goal by Mestalla youngster Kangin Lee.

What do you guys think of this performance and what are your predictions for next season?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Bats joins the Bats

Valencia today confirmed that Michy Batshuayi will join on a season long loan. The loan fee has been variously reported as 3 million euros by Transfermarkt and 4 million by L'equipe, which is consistent with the amount that Superdeporte reported Valencia offering. Superdeporte also report that Valencia has a 50 million buy option on him.

The player spent the first half of last season at Chelsea before joining Dortmund on loan, clocking up a total of 19 goals in 39 appearances for both teams, including 2 goals in 4 Champions league games. An impressive enough total in two of the top leagues in Europe. He had been heavily linked to Sevilla, so snatching him from under their nose helps us and hurts a direct rival.

While some will ask what the point is in bringing in a player that we would struggle to buy, it seems a good move to me. He's an experienced and proven goalscorer, offers pace up front and, if he can help us achieve our objectives for the coming season (at least 4th in La Liga and at least last 16 of Champions league) then it'll have been worth it. Guedes' loan last year helped us reach Champions league and meant we haven't had to sell key players this summer. If the 50 million option is true then it could be within our reach if we have a good season / lose Rodrigo next summer or similar.

On the Guedes front, the close of the English transfer window yesterday significantly reduced PSG's options. He's already refused to go to Napoli, no other teams in France, Germany or Italy have the funds or interest in bringing him in. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have already spent their transfer budgets and the chance of him going to R.Madrid (who have never expressed any serious interest anyway) lessened when Penaldo left for Juventus. This looks very good for us.

There were a couple of other moves yesterday relevant to us. Vietto has joined Fulham on loan. There was some talk early in the summer that maybe we would negotiate his price down, but that quickly cooled and ultimately, I'm sure we'll wish him the best of luck there.

Andre Gomes, who has been linked with a return to us on loan or as a makeweight in a Parejo deal has joined Everton on loan. I doubt most of us will be that bothered. Our central midfield seems well sorted with Parejo, Kondogbia, Soler, Wass, Coquelin and Racic available (Medran is also there but looks set to join Rayo Vallecano.) Left wing is the main area to cover and Gomes is not a left winger. It's still good news for us. While he is officially a Barcelona player, even if out on loan, we still get the variables from his transfer deal: a million if Barca win the title, 0.5m if they reach Champs league quarters, a million more for the semis and 3.5m if they win it.

Ultimately, I'd agree with one of the recent comments by Nickster: if we can now add Guedes, while maybe replacing Zaza with Gameiro we'll be well placed for top 4. Aside from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, none of our rivals seems to have noticeably strengthened in this transfer window.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Martin Montoya joins Brighton & Hove Albion

Valencia CF right back Martin Montoya has been sold to Premier league club Brighton & Hove Albion FC for a reported fee of about 7 million euros, including bonuses. Martin Montoya joined Valencia CF two years ago as a free agent and quickly setup himself as the first choice right back, unfortunately last season he wasn't as good, making Valencia CF coach Marcelino lose trust in him.

He would have been useful this season as well, but the club had to sell someone after bringing in few players, yet keeping most of last year's squad. Right now Ruben Vezo and new signing Cristiano Piccini will be fighting over the right back starting position.

I wish Martin Montoya good luck as he leaves in good faith and having helped this team achieve its objectives. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Everton 2-3 Valencia

Valencia scored a decent win in their penultimate pre-season friendly with the team producing their best performance of the pre-season.

VCF went with a line-up that will probably be similar to what we'll see next season, though the club will hopefully have Guedes or a left winger and an extra forward or two by then. Marcelino experimented with Ferran on the left for this one.

Both teams started energetically and it was Valencia that drew first blood. Ferran put in a pinpoint cross from the left, Soler showed good decision making, controlling, when he could have shot, and then pulling the ball back for Rodrigo to score.

Thereafter, we struggled to creat clear cut chances and Everton had more attacks. Neto produced a great save to keep us ahead but couldn't do anything about the equaliser. Soler's clearance was poor and somehow Sigurdsson managed to evade 4(!) Valencia players to pass to Tosun in space and his low drive made it 1-1.

Just five minutes later we were back in front. Great cross from Piccini and Rodrigo managed to evade his markers to head home. Rodrigo was our best player on the day and in an energetic first half I was also impressed with Ferran, Diakhaby, Piccini, Neto and Parejo. Garay and Mina were disappointing and Soler and Gaya were below their usual quality.

Everton equalised again in the 29th minute and it was an annoying goal. A corner found Keane who had escaped his marker, who seemed to be Kondogbia, and Keane headed home at the near post. The type of goal that we conceded too often last season and Marcelino will be annoyed that the defence still don't seem reliable at dealing with corners.

Mina scored a good goal just after that but was wrongly judged to be offside. At least we'll have VAR next season to take care of that.

After half time we started to see some of the subs, starting with Wass and Jaume. The latter had an ok game, but is still suspect at aerial balls. He flapped at one or two and punched when I felt he could have caught. Wass didn't do too badly. He missed a good chance from a Gaya centre but made up for it after that. Sandro and Coleman got in a tangle for Everton, Wass stole the ball, drove inside and thumped home the winner from just outside the D.

All the other subs came on except for Cristian Rivero. None of them really impressed me. Zaza and Jordi were invisible. Kangin Lee has good potential but looks at least a year away from being ready for first team action. Montoya's mind is elsewhere (Betis?) and Vezo made a couple of mistakes which will prove costly if repeated against better teams.

Overall, a good result. Everton are around the level that Betis are currently at, so an away win there is good. However, we have defensive issues which still need sorted if we are to challenge for last 16 of the Champions league or top four of La Liga. Defending set pieces is the main one.