Monday, September 21, 2020

Valencia's transfer issues

We are now 2 weeks away from the end of La Liga's transfer window. Given Valencia's financial situation, little was expected but, with 5 key players departing, some movement was expected well before the season started.

How did we get here? The lack of European football is a factor. Even Europa league would have given us some 15 million to spend on transfers. A key issue people have missed is the Cillessen situation. The club were clearly banking on him leaving and for a reasonable transfer fee. (20 million?) His injury means it's very questionable if he should leave. He was rubbish pre-Covid and then found his groove after that. But besides, what a lot of people miss is that the financial problem goes back further than that. 

With money still owed for the transfers of Zaza, Guedes, Kondogbia etc, Valencia were short nearly 30 million in the 2018-19 accounts. The obvious way to solve that would have been to sell a player like Rodrigo. Instead, the club took a more creative approach, doing a financial fiddle with Barcelona. The latter had a surplus for that season due to still getting money from the Neymar move but needed cash to fund Greizmann's arrival.

The solution? 

At Barcelona, Cillessen was fed up being a useless bench warmer and wanted regular playing time.

At Valencia, Neto was fed up having regular playing time and wanted to be a useless bench warmer.

So Neto moved to Barcelona for 28 million with the transfer effective in the 2018-19 season. Cillessen moved to Valencia for 35 million with the transfer effective in the 2019-20 season. 

That's important because effectively it meant Valencia "kicked the can down the road" (=delayed the problem to a later date.) We all applauded that at the time, allowing us to keep key players, but it caused probably more good than bad, as it added 35 million of problems this summer.

Where do we stand position by position now?

At goalkeeper, Cillessen look decent if we can keep him. Jaume has always looked a solid number 2. If the club wants to dispose of the first and rely on the second, our problems will only worsen. Jaume is not a top four keeper.

Left back is one of the only positions that looks solid. Gaya is one of our few remaining world class players. Lato and Centelles offer great cover. Lato has been linked recently with an exit, with Espanyol rumoured to be interested, but if he stays that would be one of the last three positions to cover.

Central defence is a fiasco. Paulista looks the only solid option. Guillamon looked good in the limited games he played but we need more time to judge him. Diakhaby must be doing something right to earn the coach's trust. Mangala has no one's trust. At least one experienced body is needed here.

Right back looks shaky. By common consent, after looking way out of his depth pre-Covid, Thierry might have something to offer, but it's still a maybe as he's only played around 180 minutes post-Covid competitively. Wass looks very shaky at right back and looks better in midfield. A new body is needed here.

Left wing looks more or less covered. Guedes continues to be an expensive bust, but Cheryshev (if he doesn't leave), Kang-In, Soler, Vallejo etc can cover that.

Central midfield has been significantly weakened. I miss Coquelin as much as Parejo. The failure to land Herrera is an indictment of the club's "act first, think later" planning. Esquerdo is not a player I'd give up on, but I'd like him to be brought in gradually. Kondogbia, let's face it, will get injured for a month or two sooner or later. Soler seems to play wide. Racic looked good but again, it's early days (let's remember that players like Orellana and Sobrino etc had blinding debuts for us: Sobrino scored and assited in his first game) so we need an extra body at least.

Right wing has seen a great debut by Musah but a young player like that does not yet have the stamina. With Soler there and Wass possible an extra addition would be good but is not a priority. EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, Jason is also an option here.

Up front, Maxi has been good so far. Kang-In and Vallejo had very good starts. Gameiro is still to play, is injury prone, and may leave. Depending on his wage and offers, I'd probably keep him, not because I think he's great but because I doubt we get any improvement in the market and Gameiro is a decent sub option. Sobrino is as useless as tits on a boar and even with the shortness of bodies I'd move him on.

So, overall positions to reinforce in order are:

Central defence

Central midfield

Right back

Right wing


Will we get anyone? A big worry for me is that clearly, like Prandelli before him, Gracia was promised a certain number of reinforcements only to find the club has lied to him. It's spectacularly stupid since we're running out of people stupid enough to take the job and it will only decline as our league positions decline. All these managers talk to each other and if they do end up pushing Gracia out, the people they interview will naturally turn to him for advice only to be given the truth: Meriton are not to be trusted.

For me, 2 or 3 good and experienced replacements could give us a shot at European places (6th is needed for Europa league if the cup winner is in the top 5 and 7th gets us the new UEFA Conference league.) No replacements means we're looking at 10th to 12th and losing our young talents. I'd like to be confident but these guys have let us down so many times that my confidence is shot.