Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Valencia are sinking and the captain has abandoned ship

The 2022-2023 season was a disaster. Things started well with Gattuso, but as so often happens, it was just false hope and his inexperience meant he couldn't turn things around when results started dropping. The world cup break also didn't help, with players like Cavani poor afterwards and Gattuso quitting, admitting he was clueless to turn things around. The jury is still very much out on Baraja. The club escaped relegation by the skin of its teeth. Literally an injury time goal is all that separates us from planning our first season in the Segunda since the mid-80s. And don't listen to our fans who weirdly think relegation would be a magic solution, forcing Lim out. He'd probably stay and whether he went or not, a financial hole would become the Mariana Trench.

The problems are obvious: a squad with weaknesses all over, now made worse by the disappearance of the players who were here on loan. Ok, Moriba was meh, but Nico, after alienating fans with an ill-advised interview, improved in the last few games. The biggest losses are Kluivert and Lino. Kluivert would have been a good prospect to add, but instead the club whistled in the wind while he went to Bournemouth for 8 million. Lino occasionally gets linked with a return but allegedly the player has said he doesn't want to come back and who can blame him? The transfer window started ok. The club signed Cenk permanently. I got no problem with that, since he looks like a player who can grow. Pepelu was also picked up from Levante for 5m with Canos reported to be imminent, but that was a month ago and things have frozen since then. Our first game against Sevilla away is only 17 days from now and we have a squad worse than the one that just about stayed up. Any thoughts that relegation would be a wake-up call for Lim and co have been smashed.

Right now, with Lim refusing to spend anything, the club needs departures. Cavani, Castillejo, Marcos Andre and Racic are top of the list to go. I'd keep Racic, but Baraja doesn't seem to rate him. Cavani would likely be for free. Valencia are also looking to sell Musah. Milan have offered 18 million but Lim is refusing and asking for 25 million. On the one hand I like that the club are finally not gifting players, but on the other where was this attitude with people like Parejo and Kondogbia etc? Mamardashvili's future is also up in the air and Paulista, as one of the highest earners is either expected to go or take a wage cut. None of the rest seem certain either, Thierry has been linked with the exit as well. The club probably needs about 7 signings including 3 wingers, a midfielder and 2 forwards, probably a defender too. These should have been added earlier, to have them train with the team, get used to the playing style etc, but as usual that's too much like common sense for Meriton.

Apart from Canos, the names mostly strongly linked are Rafa Mir and Selim Amallah. The 2nd wouldn't cost much as Valladolid got relegated, probably a loan to start with buy option and both he and Canos would improve the squad. Rafa Mir is the most head scratching one, since the club are pleading poverty but talking about paying around 14 million all in for him. Baraja likes him from working with him at youth level but after being ruined by Nuno when he pushed him into the team too quickly his career has been meh. He's struggled to get 10 goals a season and seems more like the profile of people like Maxi Gomez or Cavani, players who struggled here and didn't get service. Paying that much when we're hard up seems like a huge risk to me. The issue with him is the same as in 2015: we seem to be doing this as a favour to Mendes, his agent, rather than what's best for the club. (Cyle Larin is going for 8m, why not spend that on him instead?) Overall, there's also the issue that all three want to come but like Kluivert, will not wait around forever while Valencia dawdle.

With an ownership that clearly don't care, it's really hard to get any enthusiasm for the team right now. Usually I'd be looking forward to the season and seeing how new players work out but not this time. I'm expecting another hard season. We deserve better.