Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you all had a good holiday and are ready for the second half of the season.
The winter transfer window has opened, giving Valencia a chance to make reinforcements. The severely limited budget, said to be around 8 million euros, largely restricts us to bringing in players on loan with options to buy. Valencia have long made it clear that they are interested in up to three players, which, in order of preference, are a forward, a defensively minded midfielder to serve as backup for Kondogbia and a right back. Those financial constraints mean that it's quite possible that only one new player, a forward, will join.
For well over a month, Valencia's main target has been Sandro, who did well at Malaga last season but is struggling to adapt to the English Premier league. For a while, it looked like this was only a matter of time, with the player not featuring at Everton and keen to return to Spain. Unfortunately, Everton have been dithering over whether they want to let him go or not and it now looks like this won't happen. Consequently, our interest has turned to perennial target, Luciano Vietto.
Valencia have been interested in the player for years. Part of the deal to sign Rodrigo De Paul back in May 2014 involved giving Valencia a first refusal 5 million euros buy option on Vietto, but when Villarreal under Marcelino came in with an offer months later, Valencia declined and bought Rodrigo and Negredo instead.
The figures reported by Superdeporte suggest that Atletico Madrid want €12-14m overall for Vietto, with Valencia's offer being around €850,000 for the loan with a buy option around €10m. That's less than what is being offered by Sporting Lisbon, but it's understood that the player himself would prefer to stay in Spain and reunite with Marcelino, under whom he showed his best form.
I think Sandro would be the better option. He's more in the mould of Zaza, a physical player good at link up play and set pieces, whereas Vietto seems to be more in the mould of Santi Mina: a secondary striker.
In a surprising twist, Rafa Mir's departure looks set to happen this week. It's been known for months that the player would be leaving as he was refusing to sign a new contract, disgruntled with his lack of appearances for the first team and unhappy with the fans, who he thought had always seen him as Mendes' boy and the poster child for Mendes' over influence in the team in Lim's first years. Given all that, his transfer to Real Madrid looked a certainty. The twist is that Wolves of England look to have sealed his signing where he will reunite with Nuno. I'll admit a personal interest there as Wolves have been my English club of choice for decades, so I'm looking forward to seeing him play again. The positive from all this is that Valencia will get some money. Just a little (Marca report €500,000, Superdeporte say €2m) but any sum is better than him leaving for free in the summer.
In other transfer news, Valencia have been considering recalling Cancelo from his loan at Inter. The player is interested in returning as he's had limited playing time at Inter, though since Valencia's interest in the recall was mooted, he's played three games. For Valencia it poses a tricky dilemma. Recall the player and he can at least cover the right wing and the right back, though I'm not convinced he would be a massive improvement on Montoya in a defensive sense. He might also get more games than at Inter, maintaining his value, as at least we would control how many games he would play. The problem is that Valencia are dearly hoping that Inter will exercise their €32m buy option, unlikely though it looks.
Also on the right, Rober looks set to leave, signing for Getafe, who will loan him to Osasuna in Segunda, with Valencia having a buy back clause until Summer 2020 or receiving 15% of any future sale. Moving the other way, Sito returns from Lorca where he was getting limited playing time. The long term future of Guedes is also likely to be settled this month, as PSG will probably need to move the player on for Financial Fair Play reasons.
Valencia start 2018 tomorrow in Las Palmas in the Copa del rey, hoping to return to winning ways after a disappointing dip in form in December. Rubén Uría will be managing the team, as Marcelino got injured over the holiday period when his car hit a wild boar in northern Spain. Luckily, the injury doesn't seem too serious and he is expected to be back for the game against Girona in Mestalla on Saturday.
2017 represented a decent return for Valencia. Here's hoping for a great 2018!