FEATURE | What PSG can expect from Carlos Soler

Carlos Soler is set to join Paris Saint Germain from Valencia. According to Deportes COPE Valencia, the Ligue 1 outfit will pay €18m plus another €4m in add-ons for the Spanish midfielder. Soler will sign a deal with the French champions until 2027.

Born and bred in Valencia, he joined Valencia’s youth ranks when he was just seven years old in 2007. Now, in 2022, and after seven seasons in the first team, he will say goodbye to his club.

Soler made his debut for the club in 2016, going on to make over 200 appearances for Los Che.

Soler’s progress through his first four years was steady, but across the last two campaigns, the Spaniard established himself as one of Valencia’s key players after being thrust into the spotlight following numerous player sales.

The beginning of the 2020-21 campaign was affected by injury, with the midfielder missing three of the first four matches. However, he got his season up and running on matchday eight, scoring from the spot in the tenth minute of stoppage time to snatch a point against Getafe.

The late equaliser proved to just be an appetiser, with Soler scoring his one and only career hat-trick on the following matchday, dispatching three penalties to help his side thrash Real Madrid 4-1 at Mestalla.

His 11 league goals – seven of which came from the spot – ensured Valencia avoided a relegation battle as Los Che only lost one of the eight La Liga games that contained a Soler goal.

The 2021-22 campaign yielded 11 more La Liga goals, with three of those arriving in the first three games. He starred in Valencia’s 4-3 away league win against city rivals Levante, while he also dazzled in a 3-1 win over Granada, assisting the first two goals before dispatching a spot-kick.

Soler has not only demonstrated his quality in domestic action, but he has showcased he possesses the attributes to compete at the international level. He began his Spain career in style, scoring in his first two appearances, with Luis Enrique’s possession-based system appearing to suit the Valencia man.

In contrast, the revolving door of managers at the Mestalla certainly didn’t lend itself to Soler becoming comfortable within a particular style of football and the pragmatic approach adopted by José Bordalás last term stifled Soler’s creativity, with Valencia tending to give up possession to the opposition.

However, the promotion to Valencia penalty taker has certainly helped Soler rack up the goals, although his contribution to the club over the last couple of seasons does not begin and end with his eye for a goal, especially as his creative instincts could be regarded as his greatest strength.

In the 2020-21 edition of La Liga, Soler topped the assist charts for Valencia, while Gonçalo Guedes was the only Valencia player to collect more assists than Soler last term. Guedes was also the only player to have more shot-creating actions in the Valencia squad than the Spaniard last season, with Soler creating numerous chances from dead-ball situations.

Although he has been one of Valencia’s key players over the last couple of seasons, Soler still struggles in a couple of areas of his game.

The midfielder certainly feels more comfortable with the ball in his team’s possession than he does without. According to FBref, 10 of Soler’s Valencia colleague’s made more tackles than him in the league last season, demonstrating that the Spaniard struggles on the defensive side of his game. He also managed to tackle 23.5% of the players that attempted to dribble past him in La Liga last term, further illustrating the uncomfortable relationship that Soler has with defending.

Soler may also be comfortable with the ball at his feet, highlighted by the fact that only two Valencia players had more progressive carries than him last season, but the Spain international does have a habit of being dispossessed with Soler completing just 45.9% of his attempted dribbles last season.

Despite possessing a couple of weaknesses, Soler has undoubtedly has been one of the leading lights in a tough period for Valencia. He has scored crucial goals and provided key assists while taking on a role as one of the leaders in the squad.

He leaves his boyhood club after scoring 36 goals from midfield, appearing in the Champions League and Europa League, while also reaching two Copa del Rey finals, with the 2019 cup win perhaps the standout moment of his career so far.

Ben Sully

More European Football News