Friday, July 25, 2014

Transfer Market Update: Defense

It should be no surprise that this area of the squad needs reinforcements. First off, we conceded 53 goals last season, and a lot of blame has fallen on poor defending. It really was silly at times, where a Valencia CF lead would disappear in the span of a few minutes of bad defending. In addition, we lost our best defender in Mathieu, Bernat was sold to Bayern, Costa's contract was terminated and Rami was sold to Milan. This leaves, Vezo, Otamendi and Ruiz. I don't know about any of you, but I don't want to see a midfielder filling in for defense as Fuego did last season at times. It was really bad to watch but had to be done.

First up we have none other than 24 year old Argentinean international and Sporting defender Marcos Rojo. Like Mathieu he is a left-back that has been played as center back in recent times. His price range used to be somewhere from 7-10 million but after a great World Cup could reach 15 million euros. Should he reinforce the side, I would like to see him more as a left-back since he is very attack minded. He could cover as CB in case of injury or whenever needed. He is fast and also has a physical presence which is great for a left-back. He doesn't have a EU passport so it would count towards our foreign player limit which is now at 4 (limit is 3) with Jonas, Araujo, de Paul and Otamendi. With Jonas on his way out, Araujo likely to be loaned, and de Paul to get an EU passport before the start of the league, we'll have 2 slots left. One is for Enzo Perez and the other one can be used for this transfer or any other. Rojo appears to be the main target so far since he is left-footed and versatile.

Next on the list is 22 year old Swiss international and Basel defender Fabian Schar. He was part of the Swiss team for the World Cup but his team-mate Djourou would get some starts over him. He was also part of the Basel team that Valencia CF beat 5-0 in the great comeback on aggregate. He did have some great performances though including the first leg where Basel beat Valencia CF 3-0 and is generally seen as a great future prospect. His passport is not an issue. His price is between 5-7 million euros with competition from many Bundesliga clubs. His contract expires next year so this would be the best time to go for him.

Then there is 21 year old Colombian international and River plate defender Eder Balanta. He was part of the World Cup squad at such a young age but spent most of the time on the bench and didn't get much of a chance to impress. Another great future prospect that is yet unproven but his potential have seen so many giants of football go after his signature. He is priced between 8-10 million euros and if Valencia CF want any chance for his signature they have to act fast before losing out. His contract still has three years left before expiry in 2017 and he doesn't have an EU passport.

There is also Konstantinos Manolas, 23 year old Greece international and Olympiacos defender. He has been offered to Valencia CF after the departure of Mathieu. He doesn't have much of a reputation other than in Greece where he is a known for his aerial prowess and phyiscal presence. His contract expires in 2 years (2016) and he would cost from 4-6 million euros.

Finally, there is Martin Demichelis, 33 year old Argentine and Manchester City defender. With Mangala rumored to joining Manchester City, his place in the team is likely gone despite only having arrived this year. The most experienced player on this list and I'm personally not a fan of his. He has had solid performances for Malaga, Argentina and Manchester City in the past. While he would be the cheapest, going for 3 million euros, any ability he has left will continue on its decline, not a good investment. As I mentioned before, especially while playing 4-4-2 with two box-to-box midfielders, we need a fast defender and he doesn't fit that. He has an Italian passport so he wouldn't affect the foreign player limit. There are a lot of other players interested, most recently Napoli.

You may notice that the first four names are really young players, and Rojo is the only one that is actually proven between them. The rest are just future prospects. My guess is that it will be Rojo and one of the others, probably Schar due to the passport issues with Balanta and Manolas being the least proven. The rest will depend on if Nuno wants experiences in the back line (having lost Mathieu and Costa) or a promising talent. The first four are also all both large in stature and quick which is really what is required now. Personally, I would also like to consider Raul Albiol if he's willing to return.

Any thoughts? Rojo, Schar, Balanta, Manolas or Demichelis? Do you think we're looking at the right people? Who else to look at?