Thursday, September 1, 2022

Transfer window closes

It was a busy transfer window at Valencia, with 8 departures and 8 additions.


So to add to the previous post, Soler left. The fee was reported to be 18 million plus a possible four more in variables. Since he and Guedes contributed 22 goals and 11 assists last season so the pressure is on for the new additions to do that. A disappointing sum but as in so many cases, the club let contract renewal drag on too long and were forced to cash in for less than half of what he's worth.

Quite a few of our fans are disgruntled at the emotionless way that Soler left. Not a hint that the last game would be his last, no message to the fans and a shrug of the shoulders as he flew off to Paris. True, he's getting a lot more money, but it contrasts with the emotional exits of Cancelo and Parejo and the respectful one of Rodrigo.

In the end Tottenham refused to loan us Bryan Gil, who put a cryptic message of disappointment on his social media. Instead, the club added Justin Kluivert on loan with a 15 million buy option. He's said to be pacy and promising but not the finished article, with errors in his game. Hopefully he'll do better than his dad who managed 202 minutes played in a season where he was out injured almost the whole time.

In a surprise move, Valencia brought back Ilaix Moriba for another season's loan. His last season was a bit like Soler's recent form: utterly average and a lot of the time you simply forgot he was on the pitch. It's hard to be excited about his return, the only memorable thing I can think of was his assist in the cup final. 

3 other departures were confirmed. Maxi Gomez heads off to Trabzonspor. Again the fee is shockingly low. Valencia paid 17 million plus Santi Mina (valued at at least 15m) for him. Yet the asking price went from 12m to 9m to Valencia finally saying they were getting 6m, only for the Turks to leak that it was actually 3m. Meriton's negotiation stinks and then they complain we have no money? Maxi's transfer seemed a great idea at the time. Only 5 players had scored more than him in La Liga in the 2 seasons before he arrived: Messi, Suarez, Greizmann (who were all out of our price range) and Stuani and Aspas who were 33 and 32 respectively and also were penalty takers. Adding one of La Liga's young proven goalscorers should have worked out great, but he was mostly a flop.

Manu Vallejo, again a player we paid 5.5m for, was let go on a free to Girona. You'd think they could have at least got some cash for him, but nope. He was a player in the mould of people like De Paul, Bakkali etc, a fan favourite who never won the confidence of any manager and who had to make to with a bit part in the team as a late sub. Marcos Andre, who was linked with a departure, stayed in the end as Gattuso believes he's a player he can work with.

Racic has gone on loan to Portugal for the second time, this time joining Braga for the season. With all the new midfielders added he'll get more playing time there.

The day's most positive news is that Mamardashvili accepted the new contract, so is now part of the first team with an extension until 2027 and a release clause of 100 million, upped from the 20 million release clause that made us vulnerable to losing him.

Both Mata and James Rodriguez were linked. In the case of the latter I'd probably pass. Stories from Saudi are that he's not the player he was 5 years ago, is lazy and has increasing discipline problems. Having made his money at Real Madrid, motivation seems to be a big issue. Mata returning on a free would be a crowd pleaser and would add experience, though Meriton seem disinterested. So while it's still possible to add him, I'd be very surprised if it happened.

All in all, while it's good we made some additions, I'm not convinced the squad is stronger or in a position to challenge for top 7 and Europe let alone Champions League (out of the question for me barring a miracle.) The team did add in the 5 positions necessary: defence, defensive midfield, midfield, wing and forward but most of those players are young and inexperienced and we have to hope they step up to fill the shoes of the experienced departed. Andre Almeida and Cavani are the ones we most need to produce and in the latter's case, that means avoiding injury which is not a given, and getting service (also a longterm problem.)

Ultimately, while I hope I'm wrong I don't expect us to improve on last season's 9th place. I think the big three will be there as usual with Betis or Villarreal most likely to take 4th. I'd expect Bilbao and Sociedad ahead of us. Our main hope of Europe would rest on us or one of those teams winning Copa, Sevilla doing exceptionally poorly and some of the pretenders like Celta, Rayo, Osasuna etc not sustaining form across a season. In that scenario we could get 7th. Fingers crossed but with this ownership all I see is short term thinking and mediocrity.