Player feature: Che, Que Diamante!
Suggested soundtrack (AMARAS MIÑA TERRA - LUCIA PEREZ)
When Peter Lim brought the shares of Valencia and saving the club for bankruptcy, the new strategy was to bring bright talents to the club. With the increased financial power and an exciting project the club had become an attractive destination for talented young players, offering playtime and a good salary. Some of the worlds best talents joined the club after the takeover and the club is set to mould this talent into future world stars. One of the brightest talents to join the project had already made a name for himself in the Spanish top tier. Only 19 years of age Santi Mina had featured in 56 appearances for Celta Vigo, scoring 12 and contributed with 4 assist in the process.
So who is Santi Mina? He grew up in Vigo, Galicia, playing football for the local team Celta Vigo, and grew up in the Celta youth system. His father is a former footballer and played most of his career in the Spanish Segunda Divisón, but also got some games in the Primera Divisón with Celta Vigo back in 1982. Unlike is father who played defender, Santi Mina is an attacking player who can play all positions up front. His most natural position however is wide right, where he dribbles past his man, cut inside or just simply cross the ball into the box. He is not a traditional winger as he want´s to cute inside rather than going on the outside. That makes Santi Mina is a more advanced player with a great technique that gives him the opportunity to mix it all up, making it hard for defensive players to take him out.
At the age of sixteen Santi made his senior debut in the Spanish Tercera Divisón for the Celta reserves, before he shortly after signed a 5-year deal with the senior team. His debut in Primera Divisón was made in February 2013 only seventeen years of age. At Celta he was the the local boy who did deliver performances when the team needed. He is a quite likeable to watch, his combination of vision, technique and pace made him a fan favourite. Celta Vigo´s coach at the time was Luis Enrique, who featured Santi Mina more throughout the season. Santi Mina scored his first ever league goal the 7th December 2013, the same day Santi Mina turned 18. He was a regular name in the Celta Vigo line up as the season progressed, something that made him an hot transfer target the coming summer.
As Peter Lim was a close friend of Jorge Mendes and the super agent already was involved with the club, the Portuguese found Santi Mina in his portfolio. Valencia CF had to pay €10M to reach the players buyout clause. The transfers surprised most of the people who follow Spanish football as there wasn’t any indication on Santi Mina move to Valencia before the transfer was made. The Spanish U-21 international signed a contract with Valencia until 2021.
The first touch made of Mina as a che was a shot who gave his team a goal in the pre-season friendly against Wiener SK. Under Nuno Espírito Santo Santi Mina struggled to get minutes on the pitch, and the talent he had showed at Celta Vigo was almost forgotten. He made 3 competitive goals under Nuno, the most memorable one in a 1-1 draw against Barcelona. Among with the other young talents picked by the club they suffered under Nuno’s charge. Santi mina found himself featured on the bench for the most part and sometimes as substitute and a few times out of the squad.
Fortune was on Santi Minas side when Nuno got the sack after poor results and a lost dressing room. Gary Neville took the charge and the former pundit decided that the whole squad started with clean sheets. Santi Mina is one of those who have responded best to Gary Neville’s appointment. Santi Mina is now starting to display the talent he showed when playing for Celta Vigo, as he is more regular in the team now under the Englishman. He is not a consistent performer yet, but there is no doubt about his huge potential.