The past 12 months have been the busiest ever for Valencia, seeing more than 40 players going in or out of the squad on temporary or permanent deals. With strong improvement both on paper and in real life, the team is now 4th in the table and looked very strong against Real Madrid who famously lost their first in 22. One of the key players was also the first piece of business in the January window.
Even though Valencia is no stranger to long running transfer sagas (Van der Vaart, Gameiro…), the club’s and fans’ patience was really tested ever since the Argentine was first linked with Peter Lim’s bid more than a year ago. With the end of the last saga, one of the most important pieces have been added to the team’s approach. If you would’ve pointed your finger at specific weaknesses in the first half of the season, it would be in two crucial facets of play; the moment you win the ball and what you do with it the next 20 seconds, and the moment you loose the ball and what happens the next 20 seconds. In two words; “transitional play”. Enzo’s an expert, just look at the video from @rule14:
Look at how he stops the opponents, how he reads the game, places himself with perfection, how he receives and passes the ball elegantly and calmly, leaving his teammates with time on the ball. With that key piece in place, what is next?
Nuno already hinted that we might not have seen the end of business in the window. According to our sources that is true for both the outs and the ins. In the first category, it is expected that Joao Pereira will leave, having had no confidence with his managing countryman. No specific interest has been mentioned as of yet, but January is long and Joao is a strong right back for many mid-table teams.
Youngsters like Carles Gil, Rober Ibanez, Bruno Zuculini and Filipe Augusto all struggle to get playing time in the league, and since there is no European Cup this year, they will have to rely on the Copa del Rey to get games. For all of them it is detrimental to their development not to be starting often enough. There has been interest in bot Gil and Ibanez, while Zuculini and Filipe Augusto both are at the club on loan and are at mercy of their owner clubs. Especially in the Argentinean’s case, Manchester City was said already to have communicated their desire that he joined another club, although this has been denied later.
Due to FFP it is expected that Valencia will need to sell or loan out players before adding more talent. No papers have yet revealed what is really Valencia’s standing with regards to the salary limit imposed by the LFP, so for all we know, their might be room still.
There are primarily three positions Valencia would like to strengthen. There is no doubt that there is still improvement to be made at right back, despite Barragan’s good match against Madrid. With Joao Pereira discarded and Cancelo looking shaky when he’s had a rare opportunity, there is indeed lack of quality. Even though it has been talked about, there doesn’t seem to be any movement yet. At the end of the season, all three right backs are also out of contract, with Barragan set to renew for 2 further years. Names mentioned; Montoya, Zabaleta, Dani Alves, Hugo Mallo.
With Feghouli leaving for the African Cup of Nations, Piatti’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse moment for Nuno. That leaves the squad without any real wingers. If there is any further movement in January, this might be the position that is most important for Nuno to strengthen. No credible rumours have surfaced yet, though names mentioned are: Lavezzi, Shaqiri, Gaitán, Reus(!).
The third specific position to be strengthened seems to be that of defensive midfielder. With only Javi Fuego a real defensive midfielder and Enzo planned for other tasks, this position really does seem a bit weak. It is not likely that Valencia will strengthen the position already in January, but for next season, the club has been linked with a series of players. Among the most frequently mentioned we find River Plate’s youngster Matías Kranevitter, who has had a couple of very strong seasons. He also holds an Italian passport and would not affect the squads non-eu limitation. Another named that has sounded with force is that of Gianelli Imbula, a French-Congolese defensive midfielder playing for Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille. Others mentioned include Freddy Guarín (again…), Pedro Obiang…..