Saturday, September 2, 2017

The transfer window closes; Guedes and Pereira join

The Summer transfer window has been a scary occasion for Valencia fans for at least a decade. The club's financial problems, which started in the mid-2000s and have still resulted in the club being one of the five football clubs in the world with the most debt, have meant that Valencia has constantly had to sell off its best players, usually weakening the squad as a result. Silva, Villa, Mata, Alba, Bernat, Soldado... the list goes on. Hopes that Lim's takeover would stop this were dashed when Otamendi was sold, with last year's transfer window being especially traumatic, with the club losing Andre Gomes, Mustafi and Alcacer and the replacements being Munir, Mario Suarez and Mangala. All of them, with the possible exception of the latter, flopped.

This year looked to be going the same way. By mid-August the club had only swapped goalkeepers, replacing Alves and Ryan with Neto, with Maksimovich, who had agreed to join the club 6 months earlier, the only additions. In early August, the central defensive situation looked really scary, with Garay tipped to go and no replacements lined up.

What a difference since then. Garay stays, despite late interest from Benfica. The club added Gabriel from Arsenal for 11m with Murillo joining an loan with a compulsory buy of 12m, though the club has until 2019 to find that money. With Garay, Murillo and Gabriel as main choices, and Vezo and Jimenez as back ups, the central defence looks well sorted.

In midfield, the club added Kondogbia, a loan with a buy option of 25m with the late arrivals of Guedes and Pereira completing the picture. Both join on loan without options to buy.

All in all, unlike last year, the club largely succeeded in clearing out unwanted players and strengthening in key positions. Negredo, Alves and Enzo, all high wage earners, were sold. While we can all complain that they left for peanuts and below market value (see also Piatti), their departure did allow the club a fresh start to rejuvenate the squad. Vincius Araujo's contract was simply terminated. He joins Zaragoza. He always seemed a panic buy and there was close on zero chance of him ever being a useful squad member. Other exits were Santos, Abdennour, Nani, Bakkali, Medran and Cancelo, who all left on loan. The first two were definitely surplus to requirements. Bakkali was a fan favourite, but one who, like DePaul, never seemed to gel with the team. Cancelo had his fans, but his sale was long expected to raise funds, so there was none of the shock factor that happened last year with Alcacer's sale. Medran is one of the exits who will be missed most, but the player himself was pushing for more playing time and so, like Ryan, was shown the door.

The only remaining player that the club hoped to sell or loan but couldn't is Orellana, who stays with the club. Another negative from the window is failing to land a forward. The club was linked with Vietto, who stays with Atletico, Lucas Perez, who returned to Depor and, at the last minute, Gremio striker Luan Viera, who the Brazilian club decided not to sell in the end.

Overall, in relative terms, this is one of Valencia's best transfer windows in years. The club cleared out most of the dead wood, kept key players and strengthened in key positions like central defence and central midfield. Best of all, the transfers look sustainable. Kondogbia will cost 25m if we buy him, but that's up to us and we can evaluate the player for a season without taking a risk. None of the others will break the bank. Compare that to the Summer of 2014, when Lim's reckless spending on Mendes clients handicapped us for the next few years. Lessons do seem to have been learnt. The failure to land an extra forward is disappointing and means that we have to make do with Zaza and Rodrigo, with Mina as back up and Guedes possibly covering there. I suppose we can revisit in the winter window if that doesn't work.

Are you happy with the transfer window? Let us know in the comments section.