Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Valencia's mid (or end of?) season ratings

It's slow times for news. We continue to be linked speculatively with targets old and new Jose Callejon, Nahuel Bustos, Musacchio etc and with possible returns (Guaita, Neto, Silva.) At the moment it looks more likely than not that La Liga will be played to a finish with a target date of 12 June and very late kick off times for climate reasons (11pm anyone?) In the meantime here are the player ratings for the season so far

CILLESSEN 3: Most of us viewed the swap positively at the time, seeing him as a slight upgrade on Neto. Though he has produced some decent saves in some games (at Chelsea, for example) he's way below the level needed and is a prime candidate for a summer exit. A disappointing signing. 

JAUME 3.5: Many of our fans, especially those from in and around Valencia,  rave over him and I never get why. Almost all our heaviest defeats this season have come with him between the sticks (four goals conceded to Atlanta (twice) and Mallorca, conceding 3 to Getafe (twice), Osasuna and Sociedad) while he isn't fully culpable given defensive issues this is a clear sign that he certainly shouldn't be our number 1 going forward. An okay back-up keeper but nothing more.

GAYA 6.5: A decent enough season while not hitting the heights he's capable of. His decision making can be suspect at times.

COSTA 4: Lato wanted to leave in search of more game time which he didn't get so he came in. Has been ok in a few games but lacks the quality to be more than a stop gap.

DIAKHABY 2.5: last season looked like a diamond in the rough with some good defensive performances allowing us to overlook his bad habits. Like Cillessen he hasn't been irredeemably awful, with a few decent performances (away to Ajax, for example) to boast of. But those have been easily overshadowed by his many failings, especially in European games, and habits of giving away stupid penalties. The knives are out.

MANGALA 2: He arrived on a free transfer. The positives end there. Most of the time injured and when he does play, you almost wish he'd stayed injured.

GARAY 5.5: A decent and experienced defender, but looks to be past his best and that's even before we get to the elephant in the room: he's always injured. I'd be happy enough to say bye and wish him all the best.

PAULISTA 6.5: with his experience and relative lack of injuries, he's the best defender we have but needs to curb his idiotic outbursts of temper. We saw it a few seasons ago against Las Palmas and again this year at Ajax.

PICCINI (no rating) : probably easy to forget, but he did play the first two games. Another victim of Valencia's injury curse.

FLORENZI 4: looked decent in his first game but then only played three more, getting sent off in one of them and being sub in the other two. Was tempted to give him no rating as he just hasn't played enough to make a judgement.

THIERRY: 1.5: Unbelievably, Mangala wasn't our worst signing. That honour goes to this guy and he wasn't free either, the club squandered 12 million to land him. Way, way short of the level needed.

WASS 6: Never amazing, but a solid utility player who has clocked up the second highest number of minutes in the squad and chipped in a crucial goal (even if it was a fluke) at home to Chelsea.

GUEDES 3: As I said in a previous post, a typical Guedes season at Valencia sees him look like Ronaldo reborn for 2 months, Aderlan Santos reborn for 3 months and injured the other 4 months. This season all we've got are the last two. Needs to step up or be sold.

KANG-IN 3.5: Did get his first senior goal (vs Getafe) but has otherwise looked a bit lost. Clearly needs a loan to get the minutes necessary.

CHERYSHEV 4.5: shades of Guedes, has obvious quality but way too inconsistent and spends far too much time on the sidelines injured.

PAREJO 6.5: Always a controversial player. I think he's had a decent enough season, and the club clearly miss him when he is absent, but he is inconsistent, and we haven't even mentioned the penalty misses.

COQUELIN 7: a solid season undermined only by injuries and bouts of ill-discipline. A good player to have on the team.

KONDOGBIA 4.5: there's been talk of interest from England and it may be time to cash in. After a terrific first season he's been a letdown, with special moments like the goal against Lille the exception amidst injuries and average performances.

SOLER 5.5: injuries and coaches' habits of playing him out of position (hint: he isn't a left winger) have stopped him reaching his potential.

ESQUERDO (no rating): the constant injuries have pushed him to the fringes of the first team but in 3 brief appearances there's been nothing to suggest that he will be any more than an afterthought in the mould of past holders of this role like Tropi, Rober etc

VALLEJO 4.5: has looked a decent and handy player at times, with a key equaliser in injury time at Valladolid, but the left wing where he usually plays is well stocked so it's hard to see where his minutes are coming from.

FERRAN 8.5: big breakout season with too many great performances to list. Unfortunately, it looks likely to be his swansong. With contract negotiations dragging on without success and his contract running out in June next year, I could hardly blame the club if they cashed in their chips rather than risk him leaving for nothing.

SOBRINO 2.5: Would you believe he played in 14 games this season? That stat is misleading as nine of them saw him coming in as a very late sub, in five cases he played just a minute. Like his predecessor, Celades clearly lacks confidence in him and you can't blame him, as Sobrino looks out of his depth. A brilliant debut at Celtic last season was clearly a fluke. A key equaliser vs Sevilla notwithstanding, not good enough. 

RODRIGO 5.5: one of the two most controversial players in the team. Supporters point to his many assists: 11 in 28 games. Critics point out that he's supposed to be scoring goals and 5 in 28 is a poor return, though that does include critical away goals in Europe. Few would argue with selling him if an offer of 40 million or more came in.

GAMEIRO 4.5: an ok third striker, but again his scoring rate is just not good enough: 7 in 29, though half those have been as sub. He was 33 last week and has to be a candidate to be moved on.

MAXI 6.5: decent enough debut season (let's forget Chelsea at the Mestalla) where he's got to double figures. If La Liga does return, 15 goals would be the target. 

CELADES 4.5: came in under very controversial circumstances. With expectations low, he's done better than many expected: qualification from a tough group in the Champions league the jewel in the crown as well as some wins over traditionally tricky opponents such as Bilbao and Eibar. Big question marks remain. Injuries have almost always handicapped him, but how much of those injuries are on him? What's his playing style or philosophy? A major concern is that, under him, the defence has taken a definite step backwards. Hasn't done enough wrong to merit a summer replacement (though with an owner like Lim, who knows?) so should be in the bench next season, but needs to improve if he wants to be in the hot seat beyond the end of this year.

THE SEASON 4: The first game at home to Sociedad was definitely a sign of things to come. Missing a penalty in the 93rd minute, then gifting them a penalty in the 98th to throw away 2 points highlighted a major problem of Valencia: penalties. We miss too many and concede too many, easily the highest in La Liga over the last 4 seasons. Wins at Chelsea and Ajax to secure a first last 16 CL place in 7 years was a sweet moment, but then drawing the relatively weakest team and getting owned in both legs soured it and showed that the club still has a long way to go if it wants to play with the big boys. Constant injuries have highlighted the need for a squad revamp, as there are too many fragile players. The sacking of Marcelino was a worrying development. It showed that Lim can't just leave well alone and the owner-driven signings of Thierry and Mangala on Mendes' advice is an unwelcome return to the bad old days. If the season does resume, getting to top four looks unlikely, the team would need to show much more consistency than they showed pre-lockdown.

Thanks for reading and as always, your comments are appreciated.